Youth4ClimateFOREVER: Youth Participation from Below

 Youth4ClimateFOREVER: Youth Participation from Below

With the Youth Press Agency, we met minister Cingolani and some parliamentarians who arrived in Glasgow for the “political” week of COP26. Following our reflections on the role that young people should have in the ecological transition, we proposed to create a path of youth participation in the area, in line with the commitment of Italy shown at the PreCop. 

By Irene Trombini, Enrico Chiogna, Emiliano Campisi | YPA Italy

On 10th November, we took part in a dialogue with a number of Italian parliamentarians from the Environment Committees of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. 

We presented them with the project Visto Climatico and the work we are carrying out as a Youth Press Agency to report on COP26. We also took the opportunity to describe the experience of the Climate Youth Conference of Trentino – Alto Adige, organised by Viraçao & Jangada in collaboration with the Autonomous Province of Trento and other actors of the Provincial Forum for Climate Change.

In our opinion, this last initiative was an excellent experiment in co-training for the institutions and for us young people. In fact, the project included meetings with local institutions dealing with environmental protection, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, but it was also an opportunity for us young people to express our requests: after a proper acknowledgement of the existing problems and possible solutions at local level, the Conference created a space to collect our requests in a document of policy recommendations. 

Handing over this document to our member of Parliament, not without some emotion, we wanted to provide a concrete example of good practice, with the suggestion of replicating this working method throughout the country. Our proposal was therefore to create a process of youth participation starting from associations at local level, with the possibility of eventually joining the initiative Youth4ClimateFOREVER, announced by minister Roberto Cingolani to guarantee continuity to youth participation within the Conference of Parties process, in the wake of the Milan event “Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition”.

On the part of some parliamentarians there was a positive return, accompanied by a manifest interest in supporting our proposal. On the other hand, there has also been criticism of some movements, such as Fridays For Future, which, for some, are in a position of clashing with the institutions, as seems to emerge from some of the slogans seen in recent days that discredit the work of the institutional mechanisms.  

Despite the difficulty of relating to politics, we have stressed the need to create an inclusive path without drawing a furrow between the various groups. As young activists, aware of the privilege we have to be here at COP26, we are firmly convinced of the need to give more space and representation to the voices of all the youth realities that have among their objectives the fight against climate change. Different styles of communication and different modes of action are a physiological characteristic of associationism and democracy in general, and guarantee the inclusion of innovative social demands in the political dialectic.

In this regard, it was interesting to discover the different sensitivities of the associations in dealing with politics, given both by the different experience in taking part in this type of meeting and by the policy direction of the associations themselves. Even within our own association, confronting each other after the meeting, we shared different impressions about what, for us in the Youth Press Agency, was a first contact with political actors at national level.

However, in spite of the differences, we believe that all youth movements are united by one common goal and that only listening, exchange and cooperation between the different actors, with attention to the needs and demands of each, can create sufficient pressure to bring about change.

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