The 9th Conference of Youth (COY9) has been an inspiring way to lead-up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19). Held over the past four days preceding the COP, it offered participants the opportunity to network with similar minded youths from across the globe. Youth from the international community joining together to prepare for the upcoming climate negotiations is symbolic of the inter-generational equity challenge that climate change poses. Passionate about climate justice and equity, the voice of youth offers an insightful and passionate discourse to the climate change discussions. From different backgrounds, cultures and experiences; the enormous challenge which climate change poses to our generation transcends barriers of language and unites participants in forming a platform of solidarity in preparation for the next fortnight of negotiations.
Various topics discussed at the Conference of Youth have included resilience, the influence of big business on COP19 and climate negotiations, and the Polish energy economy and positions of local stakeholders. Workshops have focused on skill building and sharing across a variety of areas, with much opportunity for participants to shape the direction of the discussion. We learnt about how and why different participants are passionate about climate change and the environment, and what their goals and aspirations for the coming weeks were. A passionate delegate from the Maldives shared her experience and perceptions of climate change with the knowledge that her homeland lies just 1.8 meters above sea level and will be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of warmer temperatures and rising sea levels.
There has been vibrant discussion on climate justice, systems of oppression, and the empowerment of youths and communities. COY9 also provided information and training to people wishing to partake in actions whilst at COY9 or COP19. Participants then applied this knowledge to create an action of solidarity related to the recent typhoon tragedy in the Philippines. It is hoped that from this recent tragedy will come concrete action during COP19 to protect those global communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The irony that it is also these same communities who have contributed least to global carbon emissions and global warming should not be lost on anyone, particularly big polluters and those in allegiance with them for political and economic reasons.
The voice of youth will offer a valuable contribution to the critical climate negotiations taking place in Warsaw over the next two weeks. Let’s hope that it is one that is heard.
Charlotte Holm-Hansen & Rachael Purcell