By Charlotte Ross-Harris
Currently 50% of the global population is comprised of youth. Yet there are very few opportunities for young members of society to impact on decision making. As one young speaker pointed out today – they are in there next door right now talking about us, without us. We are the generation of climate change. We take the Sustainable Development Goals outlined in the Paris Agreement forward and are responsible to amend the state of our climate. We cannot face the upcoming generation with regret for our actions, we must pass on a legacy. And ensure the realization of this agenda. The impassioned and deeply inspiring speeches made by young and old today all sang the same message: we must ensure the youth are involved in the decision making process. The negotiations must include all involved demographics and despite being young and relatively inexperienced, the youth are qualified to make decisions – it is about the capacity of the person, not their age.
The youth of this world are the engines of social change, and I heard from some really powerful young people today who are taking responsibility into their own hands. For example, a young girl from Mauritius saw the gaps in education amongst her peers and gathered help to begin informing them of who the UNFCCC is, what happens at COP and why the Paris Agreement is so promising. She is trying to make the Paris Agreement “cool” amongst her peers, and why should it not be? Another young man from China has organized to bring 20 young Chinese delegates ranging from 14-30 years old to COP this year, a feat that requires a full year of fund raising and spreads so much awareness.
There are many good examples of youth groups working from the bottom up to spread awareness and increase the knowledge amongst groups. The youth here are energized and ambitious. And it is no wonder why – not only do we inherit the problem, we inherit the solutions too.
Some advice I noted down throughout the day: Make noise. Do not be assured with promises. Demand results.