Reporting for the last time from the Red City, Marrakech; at the end of one of the most important climate conferences of the decade – COP22. For two weeks, the negotiators, UN observers, civil society observers and activists have poured their heart and soul to make this year’s Conference of the Parties an impactful one in reaching the 2-degree temperature goal promised through the Paris Agreement. But where were the youth? Most participants at COP represented the baby boomers, rare was the representation of Generation Y.
For two weeks I observed the negotiators take the spotlight, I saw CSOs take charge and voice out, seldom did I see a youth voice out. Even rarer was an audience listening to that seldom youth who was voicing out. Most youth presentations and speeches were delivered to a handful of ministers or negotiators who occupied a few seats of the plenary hall. The inclusion of youth at COP should not be through token speeches, yellow or overflow badges. It should be through a pink badge, an actual party badge, a recognition of national delegate status.
Vital negotiations need a voice from the youth. These negotiations are for us. To make sure we have a world to live in. We need the negotiations to be “all ages, all access”. We need to bridge gaps between youth and established NGOs, youth and governments, youth and the system itself.
We as the MYD2016 were ever so lucky that we were given the opportunity to attend COP22, to be vocal about the issues we thought was important for us, to get the opportunity to hold our leaders accountable. But this opportunity should be given to every passionate youth out there, regardless of country, religion and social status. All of us need to be heard.
Over half of the world is under 30 years of age and our future is determined by a group of individuals twice our age. Who knows better of what we want for our future than ourselves? The time has come for us to voice out in unity, to fight for our rights and secure the future we deserve. Climate change is the biggest story of our time, let us be a part of it, not just narrators. Youth delegates are vital in making the story of climate change a better one. After attending the 12th Conference of Youth (COY12) and two weeks of COP22, never have I been more motivated to make sure my voice is heard in the story of climate change.
Written by Dulanga Witharanage
Edited by Choy Moon Moon