“Make no mistake, the quality of energy on this planet determines the quality of life”
The concept of intergenerational equity has been a prominent topic in discussions at COP 19 today. An inspiring panel was convened to discuss the impacts of climate change on future generations across the globe. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres shared her vision for the future to the youth in the room in hoping for a future which connects the 1.3 billion people currently without access to electricity to electricity generated by renewable sources, for efficient cook stoves for women in developing countries, where access to meetings such as COP 19 is possible using technology which is available to everyone across the globe. She reminded us that the quest for intergenerational equity when it comes to climate change is a marathon not a sprint, and that we have a responsibility to continue to advocate strongly in communities back in our home countries. She stated that transformation from high-level carbon use must be a complete wave, and that as youth we need to send a strong signal that low carbon needs to be the norm heading into the future, “make no mistake, the quality of energy on this planet determines the quality of life.” Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Envoy on Youth urged us to be patient and stay motivated, that intergovernmental negotiations take time, and that reaching consensus is the only way to move forward.
These words urge us as medical students and as global citizens to continue advocating for issues affecting health. Despite the challenges and frustrations we may experience at a local, national or international level, we must persevere and not lose sight of the vision or what we are hoping to achieve. As medical students we are often lucky in that avenues for advocacy and vision sharing are often present in the form of NMOs, MedSocs, global or rural health groups, or projects operating locally or transnationally. As youth, medical students have the capacity to make valuable contributions to society, and in the continuing theme of COP 19, the potential of youth to make vibrant contributions to the discourse on global health issues is invaluable.
Rachael Purcell and the rest of the IFMSA COP 19 Delegation