Why youth voices matter in tackling the climate crisis

This year, many Local Conference of Youths have aimed at laying strategies to hold our countries accountable and demand for increased action in regards to the Nationally Determined Contributions. Targets were set in reducing national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Youths further presented green innovations and different initiatives that each of them is doing in their various communities to combat climate change and contributing to the domestic mitigation and adaptation measures.

The Local Conference of youths is normally organized to acquaint youths with the upcoming negotiations and lay local strategies that can be applied at the Global Conference of Youths and Conference of parties. However, it was identified that most of the initiatives are still at a small scale and yet they have the potential to be replicated in various communities and countries across the globe.

Many were prepared to present the above presentations but due to the change, we were left asking each other where would our voices be heard at the highest level Conference of Parties?

Despite this, the youth did not throw in the towel and a strong decision was made in the shortest time to have the 15th Conference of Youths at two venues, one in Madrid and the other one in Santiago as formerly planned. Further still, the decision by the Chilean Government did not deter the different Local Conferences of youths that were organized by youths in their different countries across the globe ahead of the Global 15th Conference of youths and the 25th Conference of parties. The youth enthusiasm, collectiveness, and ambitiousness shown on this cannot be taken for granted.

Youths have risen up and are now at the centre of the action with global climate strikes. However, corrupt leaders, multinational corporations and more have kept on failing us, the youth, by not giving us an enabling environment to scale-up our initiatives, excluding us from the decision making processes and most of all only giving us the observer seat at these negotiations. But youths have continued to prove to the world that they are unstoppable, and they cannot be shut down. 

Now, the 25th conference of Parties has kicked off and we have managed to show unbelievable courage to continue demanding governments to prioritize Youths and their demands in the upcoming decisions.  

As the leaders will be meeting to discuss the future of our planet at COP25, youths in the different countries, communities, cities, towns, villages will also have a global chain of climate actions on 6th December. Youths will leave the negotiation rooms, boardrooms, for action to make visible the emergency and the urgency of climate action. There is hope!

By Joanita Babirye, Girls For Climate