The Commonwealth Secretary-General described young people as the “hope and win” at the COP24 climate change negotiations that concluded earlier in December. Speaking at the Commonwealth Intergenerational Climate dialogue, she said: “With more than 60 per cent of the Commonwealth aged between 15-29, youth are the great human resource with whom we are obliged to engage and empower and create intergenerational spaces like these to hear and learn from.”
Opening the dialogue, Karuna Rana, Outgoing Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN), showcased a CYCN Advocacy Video that highlights the work done by the network over the past two years. A highlight was the flagship initiative #Prep4COP, a climate change diplomacy and advocacy training programme for youth climate leaders from the most climate-vulnerable countries.
"Through the #Prep4COP programme, we've been able to train more than 75 young people, launch a Pan-Commonwealth Youth Toolkit on Small Island States and Climate Change, and convince the Seychelles Governmental delegations to the COP23 and COP24 meetings to include young people", Karuna said.
The CYCN Youth Declaration ‘Implementation as a Matter of Urgency’ was presented to the Secretary-General. It calls on member states to act now and to involve youth in climate change policy processes to reverse biodiversity loss, promote sustainable lifestyles and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.
Genevieve Jiva, the Coordinator of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, emphasised the impact of climate change on livelihoods in the Pacific. She said that “…of great concern is the large cohort of youth impacted by unemployment, poverty, sporadic economic crises, recurrent displacement, hurricanes especially in small island states across the Pacific”.
Ronald Jumeau, Seychelles' permanent representative to the United Nations and ambassador to the United States, proudly spoke of the Seychelles Support Team which is comprised of 18 youth from the Seychelles and other countries.
“For us, it's all about giving youth the space to act as climate negotiators,” he said. “The youth from the Seychelles Support Team self-organize themselves and help us report on the various aspects of the negotiations, outcomes of which are presented to the Minister and used in our negotiations. We've been inviting youth to do this for the past three years now and we haven't regretted this even once. We hope other Governments can replicate our model which is a win-win for both the Government and the youth."
The event launched the Call for Country Coordinators for the CYCN and the Policy toolkit for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Blue and Green Economies. The dialogue ended with a challenge from the Secretary General to young people to be the change they want to see and to continue tackling development challenges.