COY: The Global North and South Divide


by mydclimate


After a downhill walk from Vinxel to Oberkassel, Lhavanya and I were headed to IGS (the Red School) for COY. We had a little problem getting around because we were still confused by the transportation system in Bonn. But in the end, we still managed to get to the IGS safely. We got our tags and bought a meal chip for lunch as well as a transportation ticket for the period of COY. I have been mentioning quite a bit about COY, so now we will get into the details of it.

Conference of Youth (COY)

Opening Ceremony of COY13

The Conference of Youth (COY) is an official event of YOUNGO, the official youth-constituency to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It gathers youths from all around the world (this year COY receives participants from 123 nationalities) talking about environmental and climate change thematics. Held over the weekend, it takes place before the UNFCCC annual Conference of Parties (COP) and therefore, preparing youths to attend COP.

A COY is envisioned to have the following objectives:

  • Provides capacity building and policy training to prepare youths for their involvement in the upcoming climate negotiations
  • Facilitates the sharing of knowledge and experience in the broader context of climate change between the participants
  • Builds and enhances youth networks and movements

As we enter the building, it wasn’t hard to notice how the participants are predominantly from the Global North.

The divide between the participation of the Global North and South has long been a problem for COY (and COP). Considering the exorbitant price the Global South needed to pay just to attend the conference, it is no wonder that YOUNGO started the Global South Scholarship to encourage more people from the South to participate in COY and COP. However, even with the initiative, the participation from the Global South is rather disappointing.

The North & South Divide

The Global North is commonly recognized as the more developed societies and economies of the world, whereas the Global South mainly comprises the developing countries as well as the middle east. The standard measurement for the divide is the Human Development Index, emphasizing the importance of the people’s standard of living and capabilities.


Blue: Global North; Red: Global South

The divide between the two groups is obvious and are constantly being reminded of because it affects a country’s ability to participate in international negotiations and make their voices heard. The economic strength of the delegation from the Global South would generally be lower than that of the Global North. When the countries from the Global North could send a large delegation to attend international negotiations, countries from Global South would face substantial difficulties in doing so. As there are many smaller breakout meetings happening concurrently at a conference, the size of delegation affects a country’s representations in all the topics and subtopics where they need their voices to be heard. Ultimately, it tones down the severity of many issues as the people, who are affected the most (developing countries from the South), are not able to be fully represented in the discussions.

The north-south divide in COY may be insignificant compared to that of COP, but more work still needs to be done to encourage more participation from the South. However, it is good to see that the YOUNGO working team has a good balance of the North and South.

Logistics vs Accessibility

Some may question the decision of the Fijian presidency holding the conference in Bonn, Germany instead of having it in another country in the South. Although it is easy to explain that it is because the UNFCCC Headquarters is in Bonn, and there already are facilities for all the sessions, having the conference in the North will still be a problem for delegates from the South to attend. The problem of accessibility and lack of representation is still not solved. Having the conference at the South will also create more awareness and pressure around the issue.

However, on the other hand, organizing the conference at a country from the global South will inevitably bring massive financial burden for the hosting countries (if the country does not already have available facilities and needs to build it from scratch). And the building of new facilities is not only a financial stress but also an unsustainable action considering that there already exist many venues that could be used.

So, what do you think?



Written by Xiandi

Edited by Varun


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