You are on page 1of 32


United Nations Climate Negotiations

December 2009

“Our answer is the world's hope – it is to rely on youth. The cruelties and the
obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and
outworn slogans. It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is
already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger
which comes with even the most peaceful progress.”

This world demands the qualities of youth – not a time of life but a state of mind:
a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over
timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.”

Robert F. Kennedy, “Day of Affirmation”

Cape Town, South Africa, 6 June 1966

P4 - Climate Change: Youth Participation P18 - Youth and Future Generations Day
and Empowerment P20 - Youth Arcade @ COP15
P5 - The Ladder of Youth Participation P22 - Youth Policy - participation in
P6 - YOUNGO constituency at the UNFCCC government delegations
P7 - Youth @ COP15 P23 - Youth Policy - working groups and
P8 - Benefits of youth collaboration at the interventions
UNFCCC talks: dual outcomes P24 - Youth influencing national politics,
P10 - Youth are globally conscious policy briefings
- north-south connections, regional P26 - Youth Media
coordination, Global south youth P27 - Artspace
P12 - Bilateral Partnerships P28 - Inspiring the Movement: 2010 Initiatives
P13 - Feature: USA-China youth P30 - Conclusion
P14 - COY5 - Conference of Youth
If you are viewing this report as a PDF, click on hyperlinks and ‘multimedia corners’ throughout to reach
youth climate websites and youth-produced multimedia materials. See more at


“No decisions about us, without us!”

Various social and structural tendencies in decision-

making mean that youth are often left out of
decisions about their future. Youth voices may be
tokenised or ignored by government and the media,
due to a perceived lack of experience. Youth may
not have a vote, a say, or the opportunity to become
decision-makers in their government, economic
Climate change is the issue which will define the
and social systems. Thus, children and youth are a
generation of today’s youth. Youth understand that
marginalised, ‘minority’ group, despite under-28’s
climate change is not only an environmental issue
comprising half the world’s population.
but also one of social justice, industrial and economic
reform, women’s rights, poverty and development,
However, history shows that, when great systemic
trade and commerce, and indigenous rights.
change is required, youth have been key in
imagining, embracing and creating that change.
As stakeholders – those who will be the most affected
Youth have fewer ties to the past and are more open
by climate change – youth have a right to fully and
to future possibilities. They will carry their formative
effectively participate in political decisions being
ideals and experiences throughout their adult lifetime.
made today. Today’s decisions must treat future
Youth are the best vehicle for creating change.
generations with equal regard to present generations,
to satisfy the principle of intergenerational equity.
Youth participation and empowerment in addressing
the climate crisis should, therefore, not be
discounted and de-prioritised, but instead invested in
“We did not inherit the earth from and supported.
our ancestors, we borrowed it from
our grandchildren.”
Native American Proverb
Civil Society participation is recognised as providing
both expertise and transparency to governmental
Youth participation should not be seen as a burden decision-making processes like the UN climate talks.
on decision-makers, but instead as a wise and
necessary choice for creating quality, durable policy. The following references discuss the right of civil
society and youth to participate in UN processes:
Youth are the present and future ‘implementers’
of today’s decisions – ignoring youth input today • Agenda 21 of the 1992 Rio Declaration. Sections
may lead to decisions which youth are unwilling to 10.3, 25.2, 25.4, 25.7
implement in coming years and decades. • Article 16 of the recently adopted resolution
of the UN General Assembly on Policies and
As implementers, youth must also be empowered, Programmes involving Youth.
developing the skills, networks and knowledge • The Aarhus Convention (1998)
required to create sustainable transformation in our • European Youth Forum (YFJ)
communities and our world. Guide for youth NGOs at UN Meetings

Youth participation in decision-making on climate change can be seen in the context of a ‘Ladder of Participation’:
are youth merely informed about the decision-making process; are they consulted with someone else making the
ultimate decisions, or are youth deeply involved in and sharing the decision-making?

‘Youth Participation’ is often thought to be

fulfilled when lower forms of participation such
as access and informing occur.

In 2009, youth participation in governmental

and international negotiations moved a num-
ber of steps up the ladder, as described in this
report. Youth also moved up the participation
ladder within civil society, by developing inde-
pendent campaigns and partnerships with non-
youth organisations in education, campaigning
and implementation of climate solutions.

However, moving further up the ladder of

participation requires further transformation of
decision-making processes, and while progress
was made in 2009, there is much further to go
in 2010 and beyond. Youth-led organisations
and regional collaborations are pushing con-
tinuously for further improvement, towards full
and effective youth participation at all levels.

© 2008 Adam Fletcher on behalf of The Freechild Project.

The ideal participatory model includes not only
See a full description at
youth, but all marginalised stakeholders – in-
digenous people, women, the poor and the un-
der-educated. Agenda 21, UN Earth Summit
Programme of Action from Rio 1992

Item 25.2: “It is imperative that youth from all

parts of the world participate actively in all rele-
vant levels of decision-making processes because
it affects their lives today and has implications for
their futures. In addition to their intellectual con-
tribution and their ability to mobilise support, they
bring unique perspectives that need to be taken
into account.”

Item 25.4: “Each country should, in consultation

with its youth communities, establish a process
to promote dialogue between the youth commu-
nity and Government at all levels and to establish
mechanisms that permit youth access to informa-
tion and provide them with the opportunity to pres-
ent their perspectives on government decisions .”

“YOUNGO” constituency at the UNFCCC
‘YOUNGO’ history:
A youth constituency was first discussed at COP10 in
Buenos Aires, 2004. As youth participation grew, from less
than 50 youth to over 200 by 2007, and then to over 500
youth at COP14 in 2008, it was clear that a more constant,
more committed and more global youth climate network
was developing and growing rapidly.

This network of youth organisations prepared together for

COPs, and cooperated consistently throughout each year
by sharing strategies and ideas, independent of other NGO
networks. This independence demonstrated the need for a
separate constituency.

In 2009 the application was formally submitted to and

The United Nations process under the ‘Framework
approved ‘on probation’ under the UNFCCC. A final
Convention on Climate Change’ (UNFCCC) is the only
decision on constituency status will be made prior
truly global government forum for negotiating humanity’s
to COP17 in 2011, based on the assessment of the
shared solution to global warming. It is critical that
constituency’s work in relation to the UNFCCC process.
youth and children participate effectively in this forum, to
address the most important issue of our generation.
Coupled with generous financial support from the
Government of the Netherlands, facilitated by the UNFCCC
The UNFCCC was established in 1992. For 18 years
Secretariat, the YOUNGO constituency has increased not
– the entire lifetime of the world’s 2 billion children –
only the legitimacy of youth participation in the UNFCCC
the negotiations have attempted to bring all nations
process, but has also increased numbers and global
together to ‘stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in
representativeness of youth participation, as well as raising
the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous
the public profile of youth in media and in civil society.
anthropogenic interference with the climate system.’
(Article 2, Objective of the UNFCCC)

In 2009, youth and children’s participation in the UNFCCC

process took a great step forwards. Although youth
have attended the UN climate negotiations for many Children in YOUNGO
years, youth are now formally recognised as a legitimate
stakeholder group or ‘constituency’, whose voice should The participation of child delegates at COP15 helped to
be ‘at the table’. Known as YOUNGO (“Youth Non- give a voice to the next generation of youth.
Governmental Organisations”), the constituency status
enabled youth to be acknowledged as an independent UNICEF’s climate programme supported 8 Child Climate
stakeholder group at COP15 (the 15th “Conference of the Ambassadors to participate at youth-led events, as well as
Parties” under the UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, December 2009. a panel debate with the Danish climate change minister,
climate rock concerts in Copenhagen, and in media press
UNFCCC CONSTITUENCIES: conferences. Other under-18s from various groups also
worked within YOUNGO.
• Business & Industry Non-Government Organisations (BINGO)
• Children and Youth (YOUNGO) With no strict age-limit boundary between the two
• Environmental Non-Government Organisations (ENGO) age groups, there is a strong recognition that ‘youth’
• Farmers – independent young adults – and ‘children’, who are
• Indigenous People’s Organisations (IPOs) actively supported by adults and young adults, need to
• Local Government and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) work together.
• Research & Independent Non-Government Organisations (RINGO)
• Trade Union Non-Government Organisations (TUNGOs)
• Women & Gender

Diversity in YOUNGO YOUNGO activities @ COP15
Over 1500 youth from more than 130 countries The activities detailed in this report are as diverse as
participated as part of YOUNGO at COP15. It was the the youth movement: negotiations with officials and
largest and most diverse group ever to attend a UNFCCC politicians; impassioned public statements in UN plenary
session, indicating how rapidly the youth climate sessions; artistic actions, media stunts and protests;
movement has grown around the world in the last year. blogging and new media; traditional media outreach;
training and capacity-building workshops; and global
Youth in YOUNGO come from diverse cultural, academic, coordination meetings.
political and socioeconomic backgrounds. The constituent
youth groups and organisations use different tactics – Many YOUNGO activities at COP were made possible
from peer-to-peer education, to political campaigning, by generous funding from the Government of the
to civil disobedience, to diplomacy and government Netherlands, an arrangement facilitated by the UNFCCC
negotiation, to implementing ground-level change in local Secretariat. These activities empowered youth, from more
communities. They are motivated by diverse concerns, regions than ever, to participate more effectively than ever
from environment to poverty, economics or human rights. in the UNFCCC process, with a series of high-impact events.

Many youth come from advanced academic backgrounds, YOUNGO has also received collaborative support from
with specialisations in international environmental law, the “Growing together in a changing climate”, a joint initiative
Clean Development Mechanism or social change theory. of several UN agencies, whose goal is to facilitate more
Many youth also come from communities experiencing coordinated and effective climate change initiatives for
first-hand climate impacts, and still others are working on children and youth in their countries, and to facilitate
climate issues full-time within their organisations. As such, a greater engagement of children and youth in inter-
the passionate actions, protests and speeches of youth, governmental UN processes.
and their ambitious policy positions, are based upon a
deep understanding of the climate issue. Sadly, many of these activities, as well as the participation
of youth in the conference overall, was negatively affected
Despite the diversity of YOUNGO, youth are united, sharing by the exclusion of civil society from the final days of
a common ambition, a common voice, and a common the conference – of the 24,000 civil society members
enthusiasm to work together, and understand each other, registered for the conference, only 300 were permitted to
to solve the climate crisis. enter the conference centre on the final days, with only 12
of these being youth.

COP15 Youth Press Conference

benefits of youth collaboration
at the UNFCCC talks: dual outcomes
The YOUNGO community consists of youth brought together by the UN process.
However, their collaboration at UNFCCC talks produces results which benefit both
the UNFCCC process and, equally importantly, the youth climate movement outside of the UN.

Benefits within the UNFCCC process

Youth provide a clear, constant moral reminder to
government delegates at UNFCCC talks of the importance
of their decisions for youth and future generations.

Youth participation and campaigns, such as the 2009 ‘How

old will you be in 2050?’ campaign, have resulted in a
renewed appreciation of intergenerational equity within
UNFCCC negotiations. This principle is at the core of youth
engagement on climate change.

‘Intergenerational equity’ has been a principle of the UN

climate negotiations since 1992, but after nearly two
decades of talks, the principle had become buried in dense
policy and politics. By returning attention to this principle
in 2009, youth provided a clear standard against which the
UNFCCC negotiations can be assessed – do the outcomes
safeguard the rights of future generations?

YOUNGO also benefit the UNFCCC process through their Michael Zammit Cutajar, 2009 Chair of the UNFCCC’s AWG-LCA
actions and policy work demonstrating solidarity with negotiations, wears a youth ‘How Old Will You Be in 2050?’ T-shirt,
Small Island Developing States and the most climate- and refers to his grandchildren as the plenary session begins.
vulnerable nations. These nations and youth share a He will be 110 in 2050.
common vulnerability, and thus, similar policy positions.
Vulnerable countries also tend to have small, under-
resourced UN delegations, and therefore benefit directly
from youth cooperation. “The youthful, positive face of YOUNGO provides
hope to other young people, broader society and
Youth influence the text of the negotiations via official negotiators. The unity of YOUNGO and the trust within
participation on government delegations, policy the constituency projects onto outsiders. Talking with
submissions, and by developing relationships and youth gives you a sense of hope and optimism that
influence with national negotiators. (See page 22-26.) does not happen when you talk to old fogies.”

“It is good for negotiators to step back and be Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC
reminded what they are doing here.
Your role is very important here.”

Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary

Why 2050?
2050 is a reference year for climate science and politics. The Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that if we wish to avoid catastrophic global
warming, global carbon emissions must decrease by at least 80% by 2050.

If we achieve this, the 2050 world will be starkly different, but far more secure, than
it is today. Today’s youth, now just beginning their working lives, will work for
the next 40 years de-carbonising society. They will likely retire in the 2050 decade.

Benefits for the Youth Movement
The appeal of YOUNGO’s legitimate participation in the
highest-level international forum on climate change has
attracted and inspired many youth to become actively
involved in the international youth climate movement.
YOUNGO can serve as an entry-vehicle for youth to the
youth climate movement in their home nation and to a
career working for climate solutions.

Capacity Building, Learning:

Participating in YOUNGO expands the perspectives of
the individuals and groups that comprise it, by bringing
together youth from diverse backgrounds to share,
discuss and debate their interrelated experiences and
diverse political views.

YOUNGO provides individuals and groups with

intensive, practical experience to builds capacities in:
policy development, cross-cultural communication and
understanding, volunteer management, leadership,
networking, media, new media, event management,
negotiation, lobbying, activism and campaigning,
to name just a few.

Far more powerful than capacity building via formal

education or training courses, YOUNGO’s non-formal
education approach empowers young people by providing
them the opportunity to discover the extent of their own
capacities and to develop new skills, while contributing
meaningfully to positive social and political change.

Participation in YOUNGO, therefore, provides youth with

the capacities and confidence necessary for effective
leadership and responsible citizenship. Young, empowered
leaders and global citizens take these new capacities home
from COP and are now implementing this expertise in their
respective organisations. They will continue to do so as
climate leaders in the coming years and decades.

Connections and Networks:

Many strong international relationships are established
in the intensive, collaborative environment of YOUNGO
at UN conferences.

These relationships bring great benefits for the movement

beyond the UNFCCC process. For example, the Australian
Youth Climate Coalition (formed in late 2006) provided
advice and mentorship to youth they met at UNFCCC talks,
leading to the 2008 establishment of the Indian Youth
Climate Network and the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

The “Powershift” youth climate conference model has

spread from the United States to Australia, Britain, Canada
and India via the YOUNGO network. The youth-led
campaign utilised this network, among others, to spread
their transformational campaign to all corners of the world.

North-South connections
For an issue like global climate change, the world needs solutions that transcend national borders.
Today’s youth climate movement – part of the world’s first generation that is globally connected
by the internet – are breaking down long-standing cultural and political boundaries.

Regional preparations for COP15:

Prior to COP15, a modest program of regional Regional meetings planned for 2010 are seeking partners
consultations and preparation projects were carried to further enhance their impact. Planned meetings include:
out by regional networks, with the support of the
Government of the Netherlands and other funders. • The second South Asian Youth Summit on Climate Change
These workshops aided in identifying regional priorities, • The International Youth Summit on Energy and
enhancing preparations for COP15, and fostering greater Climate Change in China
understanding and rapport among youth networks.
• Climate change forums in each sub region of Africa, by
Regional preparation events occurred in Nepal, Sweden, the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change.
Senegal, China, Copenhagen and even via the internet • Latin American youth conferences in the lead-up to
for the ‘Mass Dialogues’ project, which virtually gathered COP16 in Mexico. The first is in Bolivia in April, hosted
youth groups from a range of different English and French- by, Reaccion Climatica and 350 Peru, building
speaking countries. These activities built strong regional from the COP15 Latin American youth declaration.
connections and greatly enhanced effectiveness of youth • North American youth will gather around the G8/G20
from these regions. meeting in Toronto in July
It has been widely recommended that such regional • The European Youth Climate Movement (EYCM),
preparation and consultation events occur again in 2010, the European Youth Forum (YFJ) and Young Friends
but on a much larger scale and in more regions. of the Earth Europe (YFoEE) are facilitating European
discussion, exchange and learning.
Regional coordination in 2010: • YFJ has initiated a COP16 Europe-Latin America
preparation meeting as part of the 11th University of
It is expected that number of youth participating in COP16, Youth & Development in Spain this September.
from most regions of the world except the Americas, will
be lower than at COP15. This is largely due to the expense South-East Asian, Eastern European, Russian and Arab
and carbon footprint of travelling to Mexico. Region youth climate networks are in their early stages,
but are already succeeding in raising climate awareness
A program of well-connected regional meetings, and influencing government.
consultations and preparations will thus be highly
beneficial. It will build capacity and share perspectives With further support, training and partnerships, these
between youth who cannot attend COP16, and to bring networks could become powerful forces for positive
their views to the negotiations. Work is underway to change, especially in oil-rich or former Soviet Union
establish such global coordination in 2010, and youth are nations, which tend to have low or even backwards
seeking support to enable these activities. political will within global climate negotiations.

Global South Youth
Almost 85% of the world’s youth aged 15-24 live in
developing nations. Children and youth are the least
responsible for causing climate change and yet are “While there is a lot further to go, YOUNGO did a
suffering, and will suffer, the worst effects. A global youth wonderful job to bridge the gap between the
movement dominated by youth voices from developed, Global North and the South. It was a great
global north nations doesn’t make sense. opportunity for everyone to learn from each other.”
Prior to COP15, the vast majority of youth representatives African youth delegate, 24 years old
to UNFCCC sessions came from the Global North, largely
self-financed or backed by local sponsorship. Youth
participation from developing nations is constrained
primarily by a lack of funding. In 2009, youth from all over the
world worked hard to rectify the imbalance by ensuring that
funds were available to support global south youth participation. The contribution of global south youth to YOUNGO was
outstanding and was celebrated by the whole youth
Funding provided by the Government of the Netherlands community. Global south youth were strong and passionate
enabled 50 youth from the Global South to attend COP15. representatives in the media, in youth organising, and in
Additional funding from bilateral north-south youth interactions with governments and broader civil society.
partnerships, and direct fund-raising by global south youth
organisations, enabled hundreds of global south youth to The experience of global south youth at UNFCCC
participate. Beneficiaries were selected using a process sessions and within YOUNGO greatly strengthens southern
designed to be democratic and representative, to be youth movements on their return home.
further developed for future funding opportunities.
Supporting global south youth participation in YOUNGO
While this still did not result in balanced global also benefits northern youth movements. All members of
participation, it was a it was significant step forwards. the youth community, promoting climate change solutions,
For example, only four African youth participated in the require a strong north-south understanding in their work.
negotiations in 2008, while more than 40 attended in 2009. It is vital to ensuring that proposed solutions are culturally
Youth seek support to make further improvements in appropriate and equitable.
future years.

Global south youth join the historic December 12 rally of 100,000 people in Copenhagen


In 2009, north-south youth partnerships both enabled southern participation and enhanced global
understanding and unity within the climate movement. In 2010, the number and scope of such partnerships are
expanding, building on past successes and learnings. Here are just a few examples of youth partnerships:

• The European Youth Forum (YFJ) administered the • SustainUS, the China Youth Climate Action Network
grant from the Netherlands government to support the (CYCAN), and the Indian Youth Climate Network
COP attendance of 50 global south youth. (IYCN) – from a trio of nations embodying the
tension of global climate negotiations – developed
• The African Youth Initiative on Climate Change – Kenya strong relationships during 2009. They issued a
(AYICC-K) jointly ran social activities in Copenhagen joint statement in June, and collaborated extensively,
with the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) whose contributing to each other’s projects throughout 2009.
delegation provided financial support via grassroots
fund-raising. In 2010 exchange programs and mutual • Youth groups in China and the US came together to
campaigns are planned, for example the Kenya Climate host ‘Our Shared Future’, featured on page 13. Groups
Road Show in which UK youth will take part. included: AIESEC China; Beijing University CDM Club;
CYCAN (China Youth Climate Action Network); Focus
• The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) the Nation, Golden Bridges, SustainUS, Tsinghua
established Project Survival Pacific (PSP) in early Green Student Association, Will Steger Foundation
2009. PSP places Australian youth on exchange (USA).
in the Pacific, supports Pacific youth voices to be
heard in Australia, and supports the establishment • The Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) is working
of independent youth networks in vulnerable island with Maldivian Youth For Climate Action in a south-
nations. PSP sent 11 Pacific youth to COP. south partnership in 2010, supporting youth voices
from the low-lying nation, to shift politics in India.
• Latin American and Caribbean youth were supported
by a fund-raising partnership initiated by SustainUS All of these activities are important and commendable
with further contributions from Will Steger Foundation efforts in uniting the youth movement across borders, to
youth delegates, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, develop an equitable and just global movement. However,
and This partnership is set to be continued youth acknowledge that balanced regional participation
and expanded in 2010. requires significant further effort and investment.

“Our Shared Future!”
Our Shared Principles:

Discussion program
“Neither the US nor Chinese government has ambitious Section 1: “你 好 and Hello! Introductions.”
enough climate policies. We the youth of both nations What is it like being a youth activist in your country?
are demonstrating real ambition to our governments.” How do you view your government? How they view you?
What strategies do you use for improving national policy?
COMPETITION: Are your parents worried you’ll be arrested in protests?
“Both of our nations are headstrong, driven by results, How did you afford your travel to COP?
and have strong national pride. Chinese and American Are you skipping classes to be here?
youth want to harness this competitive spirit in a great
clean-energy race.”
“Everyone loved sharing their stories. We were laughing
TRUST: together, it was a great, everyone wanted to keep talking!
“There is a sincere lack of trust between US and Chi- So we scrapped the schedule and just kept going!”
nese governments, evidenced by the political fall-out of
COP15. But as the first truly globally-connected genera-
tion, the youth of today do trust each other. We can Section 2: “Our policy goals: where do they overlap?”
demonstrate trust and understanding and inspire our What do you think of ‘clean coal’? Nuclear power?
governments to move forward in the same spirit.” What about CDM and REDD?
Is coal a part of your energy future?
Should or should not China commit to MRV?
Should the US take on emission reduction targets
if China doesn’t do the same?
“Youth from China and the USA understand: the
relationship between our nations will define the next
century of global politics. We both wanted to take “This was the sort of informal and honest discussion
the opportunity of being together at Copenhagen to that the US Special Envoy for climate change is not
connect, and come up with a vision for the shared allowed to have with the Chinese climate ambassador.
future that we will be co-creating.
Of course there was some policy disagreement between
So we booked a venue, ordered Chinese take-out, our delegations, but we had established such good
got 50 Chinese youth and 50 American youth, and relationships that we could say ‘I see where you are
coming from, and I know that we are both working for
we started to get to know each other.
the same sustainable, clean-energy future, so I want to
work with you to overcome these differences.”
As our generation grows older, we youth will be the
diplomats and decision-makers of our nations.
Our shared principles will be the defining principles
Outcomes – 2010 collaborations:
of the US-China relationship for the next 50 years. • Co-authoring opinion pieces in both countries
We will move forward together, towards a clean • Youth climate exchange programs
energy economy and a safe climate future.” • Documenting climate solutions across the Pacific
• Great Power Race (with A carbon-reduction
SustainUS delegate, 20 years old competition between Chinese & US university campuses.

• The event was covered by the Wall St Journal, China “This was the first time I really understood the power
Daily News, by innumerable blogs, by Al Gore in his of the youth climate movement. Despite vastly different
keynote speech, and afterwards in a US-China youth government systems, youth in both countries are
press conference. building political power in culturally-appropriate ways.
• The COP15 China Youth delegation was named by This event was my ‘we’re all in this together’ moment.”
China SOHU as one of 10 Most Significant Civil
Society Actions in China for 2009.


“I learned how to stay focused on why we are here.

We are building a very diverse movement.
At the Conference of Youth I met young people from
other countries with some perspectives I
never thought about before.”

Japan Youth Eco-League, 28 years old

Since COP11 (2005, Montreal), youth delegates

have been gathering prior to the official negotiations
for the ‘COY’, or ‘Conference of Youth’. The two-
day COY focuses on capacity-building through
workshops, collective discussions, networking, and “COP15 was one of the best experiences
thought-provoking keynote speakers. It provides of my life. I arrived in Copenhagen
orientation to youth new to the UNFCCC process knowing absolutely nobody. I was
and YOUNGO, and is a space for strategising and terrified going to COY5 but immediately
organising shared youth initiatives. made several friends and great
connections from all over the world,
COY5 played a major role in drafting the youth because of how conducive the activities
agenda for the COP15. Youth discussed, debated and at COY5 were to meeting people. This
coordinated policy positions, and established greater provided me with so many opportunities
just to learn about different aspects of
understanding and stronger friendships between
climate change. The workshops at COY5
youth communities around the world. Over 700 were very informative.
youth, from over 100 countries, attended. Many youth
organisations presented their projects and swapped Being involved in YOUNGO has made me
advice and support with others. Youth established realise that climate change is something
communication mechanisms at COY for the duration we will be dealing with for our
of COP15 – meetings, announcement boards, whole lives. Had I not been involved
email systems, and even an innovative mass instant- with YOUNGO, I would have missed
messaging system, which enabled youth to respond out on many opportunities, and
quickly to developments in negotiations. undoubtedly would have had a less
enriching experience.”
COY is organised and run by an open team of Australian National University,
dedicated international youth volunteers. The International Relations
willingness of the Government of the Netherlands to & Chinese Studies
invest in youth helped to make COY5 a great success. 21 years old


Multimedia from COY5

• A message from youth at COY: Lower your emissions, raise your voice!
• Marie Tamoifo Nkom from Cameroon at COY (Francais)
• COY video-blog from the Will Steger foundation, Mid-West USA
• COY ‘energy wave’ group photo, AYCC
• Kumi Naidoo’s keynote speech: Part 1, Part 2. Kumi Naidoo has been a leading voice for civil rights and democracy
in South Africa and Zimbabwe all his life, beginning in his youth. He is now the Executive Director of Greenpeace
International and Chair of the ‘TckTckTck’ Global Campaign for Climate Action.

“We can, we must and we will solve climate change.” - Kumi Naidoo

Capacity Building
COY is the main capacity-building project of YOUNGO,
and is the annual highlight of the international youth
climate movement’s calendar. However, YOUNGO needs
continuous capacity building for new and experienced
members, throughout the year.
“We’re fighting for our very survival.
Capacity building is usually undertaken by national
Science says that survival equals 350ppm. organisations rather than at an international level, however
That means we need action now. as the benefits of international collaboration are more
Not next year, now.” widely understood, there are greater efforts to increase
low-carbon opportunities for cross-border networking and
capacity building, outside of the COY.
Ethiopia, 24 years old
To extend the capacity-building of COY throughout COP15,
a ‘Community Catalyst’ staff member was hired, also made
possible by the funding provided by the Dutch government.
Their role was to orient first-time participants to the
UNFCCC process as they arrived, and to facilitate synergies
across the youth movement by connecting organisations
sharing similar goals. Many first-time participants noted
COY5 Wo this role was instrumental to their positive
Goal 1 - “
To build tr rkshops... experience at COP15.
st and so
ideas, tho darity among youth
TRACK 1: G o al 2 - To b u ghts, who
uild a truly successes and sk will be attending C
UNDERS ills with e
TANDIN global mo
v e m e ach other. OP15, and to share
COP ov G COP1 n t to s to p
erv 5 TRACK 2: the climate
· Update o iew B U IL
n climate DING A
· What’s a science GLOBA
t stake? C Commu L MOVE
justice (E limate im n ic ation: MENT –
nglish, Es pacts & c · P u b COP & B
· Policy ‘s pañol, Fra
limate lic Narrati
tate of play’ ) ·N ew media
· Diversity : blogging
in the clim · Tradition , video, p
justice & ate movem al media: h
equity ent – clim advisories press con oto, social network
ate ferences, s
Youth@ · Talking to releases,
COP orie the Media
· Youth at ntation · Inspirati (English,
COP + YO onal Spea Español,
· Utilising UNGO kers – yo F
a day at C Local ca uth & civil rancais)
· What is OP effecti mpaign society le
the role o vely · Actions tactics & aders
the broad f youth at & stunts best pra
er climate C OP15 & in · Art & Ac c tices (fo
· Regiona movemen tivism r COP &
l youth m t? · Setting u home)
eetings p a nation
COP po · Street Th a l youth cli
licy nuts eatre & S m
· Structure & bolts poken-Wo ate coalition
& Proces rd for Acti
· Specific s of the U vists
NF Strategy
· Adaptati policies 101
on · Goals, ta
· Carbon tr rge
ad · Campaig ts, tactics – COP a
· REDD an ing, CDM n nuts &
bolts – fu
s a case s
d Forests lobbying,
event org nd-raising tudy
· Group fa anising, e , network
· Finance cilit tc ing,
& Techno
logy Tran · Organisin ation & running g
g ood meeti
sfer · Organisin in Rural and Impac ngs
g for Pow ted Comm (English, Francais
er unities )

“Our destiny will not be written for us,

it will be written by us.”

Australian Youth Climate

Coalition, 26 years old

Youth and future generations will feel the consequences of the

decisions made in Copenhagen, and in the coming years of the
UNFCCC. However, too often, youth are unable to participate
fully in such decision-making processes. Youth and Future
Generations Day aimed to address this by bringing the role,
needs and desires of children and youth, and the principles of
‘intergenerational equity’ and ‘intergenerational implementation’
to the attention of decision-makers present at COP15.

‘YoFuGe Day’ provided a powerful showcase of youth work

around the world. All youth organisations had a chance to
contribute to the fourteen hours of youth activities within the
conference center. Each activity focused on different aspects:
education, intergenerational equity, children, the international
youth forests movement, the role of women and girls, and more.

The youth energy was contagious, and the day packed with
activity – youth press conferences, media interviews, official
side events, ‘mini’ side events, and lobbying meetings with
governments. Visual art highlighting youth engagement on
climate change appeared throughout the conference centre.

Highlights of the Day

A FLOOD OF ORANGE Intergenerational inquiry
on climate solutions (See webcast)
A flood of vibrant, bright orange, carbon-neutral At COP14, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer,
T-shirts throughout the conference centre made scientists, representatives of UN agencies, negotiators, and
youth’s presence and unity known by all. Orange young people from around the world were called to ‘testify’
is the national colour of the Netherlands and is before the first ‘Intergenerational Inquiry’. At the COP15
representative of the energy, passion and vibrancy of Inquiry, speakers testified on how their actions contribute
the international youth climate movement. to a collective solution to climate challenges, and what they
see as important prerequisites in reaching an effective post-
2012 agreement.
CO2-neutral orange scarves with the youth rallying
cry “Survival is not negotiable” were distributed to Youth spoke as equals alongside negotiators and leaders in
negotiators, in exchange for a verbal commitment the climate change movement.
that they would actively work to ensure the survival • Ms. Ruchi Jain, youth representative, India
of all nations - including the most vulnerable - for this • Mr. Thomas Spencer, youth representative, Australia
and future generations. One government delegate, • Mr. Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary
when leaving the conference after the final day’s failed • H.E. Mohammed Aslam, Minister for Environment, Maldives
plenary sessions, saw some young people in their • Ms. Alicia Montalvo Santamaría, Director General,
orange T-shirts, and held up their scarf, saying, “This Ministry of Environment, Climate Office, Spain
is not over yet. Survival is not negotiable!” • Mr. Adrian Fernandez, President, National Institute of
Ecology, Mexico
• Ms. Bridgette Cindy Makhubedi, UNICEF Children’s
Climate Change Ambassador, South Africa
IMAGE: Ruchi Jain, 23, from India, addresses 18
the Intergenerational Inquiry on Climate Solutions
YOUTH-LED SIDE EVENTS UNICEF Youth Ambassadors. A 17 year old youth
climate ambassador from Zambia described how the
Youth organisations held official side-events for ambassadors work in their communities to mitigate
delegates, media and civil society, presenting their work the changing climate.
and recommendations. Side-events included:
350ppm: The need for bold mitigation targets.
‘Intergenerational Equity’, hosted by the European Youth-led presented the loud demands of global
Youth Forum (YFJ) and the European Federation of civil society and science for the ambitious, and necessary,
Young Greens (FYEG). Tracy Bach, a legal scholar, global 350ppm emissions pathway.
introduced the principle’s legal framework. Official Youth
Delegates (see page 22) demonstrated the need to The role of education in relation to the climate crisis.
involve young people at all levels of implementation and Service Civil International (SCI) led an discussion between
decision-making. Margareta Auken, a Swedish Member expert actors in education for sustainable development,
of European Parliament stated that young people should addressing the past and future contribution of education to
engage themselves directly in politics, as powerful agents behavioral changes, mitigation and adaptation.
of change.
Youth, forest protection and survival. SustainUS
‘Girls and Young Women Leading Change’, presented brought together youth from around the world who are
by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts leading forest protection and education initiatives, and how
(WAGGGS). Young women delegates from Kenya and this relates to the REDD climate negotiations.
the USA recounted their personal non-formal education
experiences to showcase best practice on how to connect
with girls around the world; include them in decision- “Young people around the world don’t
making about their own future, and mobilise them to take blame the older... this is a question of political
action to save our planet. will and young and old working together.”

Youth Arcade

The “Youth Arcade”, comprised of 15 youth-

related booths in the COP15 exhibition and
entrance hall, was a place for all actors in
the youth movement to display their success
stories, identify synergies and develop new

Eight ‘Mini side-events’ were run on Youth

and Future Generations Day, and four on
every other day throughout the conference,
in this shared and open space curated by
youth. The mini side-events ranged from
stories told by UNICEF’s child delegates, to
cultural performances by the African Youth
Initiative on Climate Change; from games and
multimedia presentations with the Girl Guides
and Scouts, to reports and carbon footprinting
tools created by youth-led NGOs.

COP15 was the first time that a themed

‘arcade’ had been set up by any group in the
NGO exhibition space at a UNFCCC meeting.
Youth collaborated strongly with the UNFCCC
Secretariat to make it happen within UNFCCC
rules. It was a vibrant meeting, working and
presentation space, adding colour, excitement
and inspiration to the otherwise ‘official’
conference centre. The Youth Arcade brought
the relationship-building and shared learning
from COY right into the conference centre.
IMAGE: Ibrahim Ceesay, 24, and Ebrima Dem, 27, from The Gambia, perform
the youth-climate hip-hop song “Save the Earth”, at the YoFuGe Day 20
Reception. (Rap by Josh Solnick, 21, UK)
Youth Reception
To conclude Youth and Future Generations Day,
youth hosted a reception where youth, govern-
mental delegates and UNFCCC officials were able
to mingle and exchange ideas informally.

From inspiring speeches and presentations to

climate hip-hop performances, the event built
camaraderie and unity amongst all who attended.

See more images from ‘YoFuGe Day’ from

IISD, WAGGGS or Robert van Waarden.

UN Youth booth:

Managed by the secretariat of

various UN agencies, the UN
youth booth provided a space
for participating agencies and
youth organisations to present
their youth-climate initiatives.

The booth featured the COP 15

‘Intergenerational Commitment
Book’ where Parties, UN officials,
intergovernmental and non-
governmental organisations and
the private sector were invited to
express their commitments to
improving youth participation in
addressing climate change.

Some 60 signatures collected

in the Book, include Rajendra
Pachauri, IPCC Chair; Achim
Steiner, Executive Director of
UNEP; John Kerry, U.S. Senator;
and Gro Harlem Brundtland,
UN Special Envoy on Climate

Commitments will be monitored

and the results presented at COP
16 in Mexico.
youth policy
Official Youth Delegates:
Participation in government delegations

In article 17 of the recently adopted resolution of the UN

General Assembly on Policies and Programmes involving
Youth, member states are urged:

“to consider including youth representatives in their

delegations at all relevant discussions in …
relevant United Nations conferences. ...
such youth representatives should be selected
through a transparent process that ensures that they
have a suitable mandate to represent
young people in their countries.”

The first Official Youth Delegates to the United Nations

were included at the General Assembly in New York in the
1970’s. At COP15, at least 25 countries, in Asia, Europe,
Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean, included politically
independent youth from civil society on their official

Official Youth Delegates learn deeply about their

government processes and policies, but also have
opportunity to input the youth voice more directly to
the negotiations, through strong relationships with their
government delegation. For example, Gertie de Fraeye
from Belgium promoted the policy positions of European
youth within EU coordination meetings, and Swiss youth
delegate Sonja Astfalk officially negotiated for her nation in
the Contact Group on Capacity Building.

Official Youth Delegates formed a geographically diverse

team. Together they discussed politics, shared experiences
and developed ideas and strategy to ensure that the youth
perspective is directly present in the negotiations. When • The European Youth Forum and the Carribbean
civil society were excluded from the conference on the Youth Environment Network facilitate youth
final days, Official Youth Delegates could still enter the participation in government delegations from
conference centre with their government badges, enabling their regions.
youth voices to continue to be represented.
• The African Youth Initiative on Climate Change
is establishing a formal youth delegates program
Experiences varied depending on how each government
structures its youth participation. European youth • Youth in regions without a delegate program
delegates, mainly selected by National Youth Councils, can approach their government departments
were more independent of their governments, with their directly, citing the UN resolutions referred to
own agenda, acting as true ‘observers’ of the process. above and on page 4, requesting participation
However, with alignment between youth goals and the and access.
goals of vulnerable nations, African youth delegates were
often more involved in the work of their delegation, as
government aides, similar to an internship experience.

Policy and Intervention
Working Groups:
Youth groups registered as observer organisations have SPOTLIGHT:
the right to submit their recommendations to the UNFCCC
negotiations’ formal consultation processes. In YOUNGO,
Youth Forests Working Group
international working groups prepare such policy Many members of YOUNGO identified participation
recommendations on behalf of the whole constituency, in this Forest policy sub-group as the highlight of
and also present united youth positions in statements their involvement with YOUNGO.
known as ‘interventions’ during negotiating sessions.
The Group had strong ties with non-youth forest-
Youth call for ambitious and equitable policies – in focused NGOs, and conducted daily media stunts in
mitigation, adaptation, climate finance and forests – response to developments in the LULUCF and REDD
informed by sound science, and in solidarity with those negotiation areas, which they closely tracked.
who would suffer most from the impacts of unchecked
climate change – future generations, the most climate- They ran multiple capacity-building and strategy
vulnerable nations, women, and indigenous peoples. workshops at COY, lobbied governments, and
performed frequent media interviews, explaining
Youth can also offer specific expertise on areas of the complex forest policy in plain language to the
negotiations which specifically affect or involve youth: general public. They marched together with local
youth implementation of climate adaptation, capacity Danish Forest NGOs in the historic 100,000 strong
building for youth and young women, design of youth December 12 rally through Copenahgen.
participation processes, and incorporating climate and
sustainability into school curricula.

By lobbying for specific language in negotiating text,

youth can influence the outcome of the negotiations. If
such text becomes UN-agreed language, youth can later
use these resolutions to lobby for national policy change,
or for establishment of relevant government program.

MULTIMEDIA: Youth speak!

• Juan Carlos (23, Peru) on the final day of the
conference. The hall is empty because of strict
security provisions excluding civil society
from the conference.
• Moey Newbold (20, USA) speaks on behalf of
the youth constituency on climate adaptation
during the negotiations.
• Amira Karim (24, Singapore) presents youth
positions calling for a democratic and
ambitious negotiation process, after political
controversies during the first week of COP15.
• Press Conference Webcast, outlining the
policy demands of youth and the declaration
of the international youth climate movement.
• Civil society submissions to the UNFCCC
process, by youth and all other observers, can
IMAGE: Dessima Williams, Chair of the Alliance Of Small Island States be found here.
and climate Ambassador from Grenada speaks to media, supported by
youth. She attended the UNFCCC negotiations in 1995 as a youth del-
egate campaigning for sustainable development and women’s rights.

Youth policy

“Youth should not be disappointed if they

were unable to influence the outcome of the
negotiations ‘on site’ at COP15. Negotiators
come to COPs with fixed instructions from
national capitals, with little leeway to deviate.

It is before the COP and in the national capitals

when and where ‘influence’ work should be.”

Influencing national politics

The United Nations, based on consensus, can not Participation at a COP often provides youth with a much
impose necessary policies to solve climate change on higher level of access to their own governments than
nations who don’t support those policies. The political they are able to achieve at home. Governments – both
conditions in each stakeholder nation must be right. the negotiation teams and government ministers – are
Thus, while youth work improving negotiating text obliged to meet with stakeholders when present at
during a COP is an important strategy for change, it’s UNFCCC meetings. In some cases, these meetings at
potential is limited by political conditions. COP are the first opportunities for youth organisations
to establish relationships and gain legitimacy in the eyes
To create the needed large-scale political shifts to solve of their governments – relationships which are then
climate change, youth must also influence public opinion leveraged throughout the year domestically.
and their national governments, to ensure that youth and
future generations’ interests are protected. For example, the European Youth Climate Movement
hosted a successful youth roundtable to exchange views
with Environment Ministers from Ireland and Belgium,
the French Secretary of State and special envoys on
“You can do a lot here in Copenhagen but climate from the Netherlands and Finland.
you can do so much more when you
get home ... Get involved and engage When youth lobby politicians and governments, they
your local politicians. Your lives extend fill a different niche to the technical expertise that is
beyond their next election. It is the youth of contributed by ‘adult’ civil society. Youth lobbying
the world that’s going to change instead is based on a moral voice. Youth demonstrate
all that we need to change.” unity, trust and cooperation, and encourage their nations
to do the same. They present their campaigns engaging
Dr Rajendra Pachauri young people in their countries, and bring the demands
Chair of the IPCC of youth directly to politicians.

IMAGE: Amira Karim, 24, of Singapore, prepares to give an 24

intervention in UN plenary on behalf of Youth.
youth policy

“YOUNGO has made climate change

more real, less about numbers and
more about future moral consequences
of failure. Most politicians are also
parents – we remind them that their
choices affect their children’s future.”

The UNFCCC Secretariat hosted a series of youth
briefings during COP15 to facilitate dialogue between
youth and other influential actors in the negotiations:

• Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC

• Connie Hedegaard, Minister for Climate Change,
COP15 President (Denmark)
• Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General
• Juan Rafael Elvira, Secretary for Environment and
Natural Resources, COP16 President (Mexico)
• Michael Zammit Cutajar, AWG-LCA Chair
• John Ashe, AWG-KP Chair
• Ricardo Lagos, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary
General on Climate Change, former President of Chile

Senior officials shared their perceptions of the

negotiations and the role that youth should play within
them. Youth reciprocated by sharing their intentions,
concerns and questions. It was a great opportunity
for youth to access political leaders and to enhance
their understanding of political processes. Agendas
were jointly crafted by youth delegates, participating
dignitaries and the UNFCCC Secretariat. Briefings also
served as useful opportunities for attending media to
understand youth perspectives.

A youth communications working group, led by an
experienced youth Communications Coordinator, whose
role was enabled by support from the Government of
the Netherlands, worked throughout COP to ensure that
messages of global youth were consistently and powerfully
communicated via both traditional media and new, online
and social media.

This international communications team supported media

work being done by separate youth delegations in their
national languages.

The communications working group had four sub-teams:

• Press releases team – turning YOUNGO activities, Youth Produced Media
announcements and declarations into global
or regional media releases; working with youth In addition to the youth communications group, focusing
translators to develop multi-lingual releases; on traditional media, a pioneering group of young media
developing relationships with journalists and bloggers. professionals – photographers, film-makers, journalists,
• Press conferences team – arranging speakers and writers, bloggers, artists and musicians – took to making
media advisories, inviting and following up with journalists. the news themselves, and training others to do the same.
• Media capacity building - Developing training Most youth delegations had at least one ‘in house’
materials and sessions – interview techniques, writing documentarian – producing photographs, blogs, and
press releases and advisories, developing messaging. videos – to communicate back to their home constituency.
• Social media coordination – supporting outreach
through social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) The work of youth media professionals is a valuable source
of inspiration and motivation for the youth movement
across the world, to see the benefits of their work reflected
back to them. It has also been a crucial mechanism by
which the youth perspective can be accurately and directly
communicated to the public.

Young people have large social networks. Their families,

work colleagues, school-mates, and sporting or cultural
groups are all opportunities for targeted outreach. Youth-
produced media enables youth climate activists and
advocates to engage their social networks on terms that
appeal to these communities.

Plans are underway to create international youth-produced

climate media and art exhibitions, communicating climate
challenges and solutions in new ways, to new audiences.

• Project Survival Media
• Youth climate photography
• Youth climate blog sites:
• – aggregated global blogs
• – world’s 2nd
largest climate blog
• Climate Changes Art


Artspace Art is an international language, able to bring people

together despite language barriers. Youth who used the
Youth at COP played a critical role in providing visual Artspace were empowered by co-creating art together
images to the media via creative actions or ‘stunts’, and it used to communicate youth messages to the
relating the negotiations to real-world climate impacts. world. Workshops held in the Artspace provided youth
Many youth actions were captured by leading news with ‘artivist’ skills which will be used again and again in
outlets, and the images circulated around the world. their home countries, in creative actions, campaigns and
“Without youth art, journalists at COP would
Shared, sustainable meals provided free of charge by the
only be able to capture images of a sterile
local Copenhagen community occurred every night in
conference centre and negotiators in suits!” the Artspace, a valuable resource for youth on a budget,
particularly global south youth. The Artspace allowed
This creativity is becoming a signature of the growing youth delegates from the conference to meet and work
youth climate movement. From creative direct action with others from civil society events outside of the COP
to dance flash-mobs, the youth climate movement has like Klimaforum. In the Artspace, youth built both art and
embraced the rich potential of the arts to communicate relationships, discussing and connecting creatively across
with inspiration and emotion. In the face of political cultures and across politics.
rhetoric and depressing news, the creative optimism of the
youth movement flourishes, inspiring others to action. Puppeteers, painters, performers and prop-builders
from the Artspace contributed strongly to the historic
At COP15, a shared artspace, supported by funding from 100,000-strong civil society march through Copenhagen
the Government of the Netherlands, was established on December 12. Penguin costumes, giant puppets, boats
outside the conference center, with a vast store of and more added an energetic, peaceful and determined
cardboard, paint, fabric, wood and tools. By providing all youth presence in the march.
the necessary materials to create visuals, the Artspace
then served as a creating, meeting and rehearsal place “I think the Artspace is the most relaxing place
for all, open every day and night. This enabled Youth to in Copenhagen. It’s the warmest place without
be “rapid responders” to new developments inside the
a heating system. You go home feeling good.”
conference centre in unprecedented ways, and helping to
frame emerging media stories. African Youth Delegate

Inspiring the moveme nt:
Returning home from the momentous, action-packed, A new focus on youth-led solutions
international-politics experience at a COP can feel
overwhelming – so many new ideas, so many new global After the failure of COP15, youth have declared that they
connections, and so much work still to do. are will not wait for political leaders to lead the world
in solving the climate crisis. Now is the time for civil
After a COP, youth are freshly inspired. They are busy society, and youth in particular, to be leaders themselves,
developing and implementing programs and campaigns, implementing local solutions and setting an example for
following up bilaterally with government and civil society their governments and communities.
connections, planning for the years ahead, and sharing
their learnings from COP with their local communities. The Energy Action Coalition, leading the US youth
climate movement, is working to ‘define the decade’ with
In addition to those activities already mentioned community clean energy solutions and youth leadership.
throughout the report, here is a sample of youth initiatives Around the US, local groups will build hundreds of
taking place in 2010. local campaigns around clean energy development and
moving student campuses beyond coal. Their efforts will
demonstrate the viability of their ambitious but necessary
New youth climate organisations political demands and will build political support.

The Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) has chosen a

similar path, with a focus on youth leadership to create
“The Philippine Youth Climate Movement started right
empowering local solutions in every state, city and town.
after COP, in January 2010. We already have over
See India Climate Solutions and Green Solutions India.
1000 members and have reached 40,000 students
with our message by school visits. It would never
Indian youth’s focus on solutions is also at the policy
have happened if it weren’t for the International Youth
level. The nation’s highest planning authority – The
Climate Movement’s participation in the UNFCCC
Planning Commission of India – is laying out a vision
meetings. I was so inspired, I talked to other youth
document for a low-carbon path for India by 2050. The
about how they did it in their home countries, and
IYCN is working with the Commission to ensure that this
now we have gotten started!
critical document is developed with full participation of
youth – who will, in 2050, just be retiring after a working
The youth movement at COP has inspired me to
lifetime implementing this low-carbon partway.
move beyond awareness-raising campaigns, but
now into ‘solutions’ as well. Here in the Philippines, was created and led by 7 youth organisers with
we’ve decided to start our coalition by getting young
strong connections to the international youth movement
people to plant 1 million trees. We already have
at COP14 in Poznan and COP13 in Bali. They coordinated
pledges of over 200,000 trees to be planted next
the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s
week! I am speaking with the Philippines’ Department
history on October 24, 2009, and in 2010 is maintaining
of Education, Department of Agriculture and the
that momentum with a “Get To Work” campaign, in
Department of Natural resources, working with them
partnership with the 10:10 campaign, who aim to cut
to help the youth to implement climate solutions. We
emissions of all campaign participants by an ambitious,
want to make it a national practice for all students to
but achievable, 10% in 2010.
plant a tree when graduating from school.”
On 10/10/2010, communities worldwide will be part of a
Philippino Youth Delegate, 23 years old ‘Global Work Party’ – putting up solar panels, insulating
homes, erecting windmills, planting trees, launching
or harvesting local gardens, building bicycles and
Political focus: more. On this day, the youth movement will lead their
communities in “getting to work” creating the sustainable
Youth movement leaders of today are the civil society, future, showing political leaders that now is time to lead,
government, business, and community leaders of confident that they will have public support.
tomorrow. But how quickly will ‘tomorrow’ arrive?

After the lack of political leadership at COP15, a number

of youth organisations are beginning to discuss how to A message to World Leaders from Global Youth
support young people to enter political decision-making at the conclusion of COP15:
positions in the next few years. To achieve climate justice,
global politics needs the new, globally-connected and “You’re not done yet,
solutions-focused perspective of youth. and neither are we!”

2010 initiatives
Empowering vulnerable youth – Restoring confidence in climate science
governance, education, training. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) has
launched a competition called ‘Reality Check’ to push back
against misinformation about climate change spread at
the end of 2009, in order to improve public understanding
“Some Somalian youth, whose country has been in of climate science, thus restoring public confidence in the
civil war their whole life, they told me that many have IPCC and climate science. During ‘Climate Reality Week’,
never been to school, and that small kids use guns AYCC is partnering with a national youth radio station and
as their toys. They said, if someone can discover is offering prizes for young people who display the slogan
something more exciting for the kids than the guns, “The Climate is Changing: We Can’t Escape Reality” or
then maybe something will change. We want to use who present the climate mythbusting fact sheet in the
climate change as the issue to engage youths, to most creative way to the greatest number of people.
educate them, and to eventually end violence and
government corruption in Africa.”
International Coordination
“We are focusing on establishing national youth
networks in countries we haven’t worked in before, Despite the disappointing outcome of COP15, youth
like Somalia and Ethiopia, as well as strengthening participation took a strong step forward. However,
and expanding existing ones. It is amazing how youth youth still have much to improve on, learning from the
are responding, wanting to be associated with AYICC. successes and the challenges faced there.
We will run campaigns, and start with the grassroots,
step by step, educating the youth and running Enabled by the funding from the Dutch government,
regional conferences.” youth spent a full day together after COP evaluating the
performance of YOUNGO. This was followed up with
African Youth Initiative on Climate Change online evaluations and a recommendations report.

In 2010, youth are working to improve international

The Caribbean region is among the world’s most climate- institutional memory, coordination and governance.
vulnerable areas, strongly impacted by rising sea levels Priorities include improving efectiveness and
and tropical hurricanes. The Caribbean Youth Environment accountability of the volunteer ‘Bottomliners’ coordinating
Network (CYEN) was established in 1992 and is now the team, potential establishment of international coordination
largest youth organisation in the region. Under the five- staff, and improving global representativity and language
year Caribbean Youth Programme for Action on Climate inclusivity. Financial support and supportive partnerships
Change, CYEN raises public and youth awareness, engages are being sought to support this effort.
in political advocacy, and is training youth leaders in
electrical energy auditing and small business management
across the 16 Caribbean territories, particularly targeting
work in disadvantaged communities.

Intergenerational Equity in
The youth in the UK are investigating the establishment
of an ‘Ombudsman for future generations’, to review all
government decisions with regard to the rights of future Delegations to COP16, Mexico
generations, based on the existing Hungarian model.
Youth from all regions of the world are planning and
Additionally, they are participating in the Youth Advisory seeking support for activities at COP16 in Mexico,
Panel of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, December 2010 and COP17 in South Africa, 2011.
inputting on both policy and on appropriate structures and
operating methodologies for the Panel, moving it beyond These two events will be a further opportunity to create
youth consultation and into real, effective participation in political change while building capacity and global
policy development. connections in the youth climate movement, particularly
for Latin American and African networks.

The irresistible momentum of the youth movement
The YOUNGO activities described in this report The prospect of continued inadequate outcomes in
demonstrate that youth, through participation in and the UNFCCC negotiations is a terrifying prospect for
around negotiations, are actively shaping their future. youth. Maximising youth participation in the UNFCCC
Youth are empowered, influencing national politics, and process, and all government and civil society decision-
building their skills, capacities and understanding in a making processes, is essential if youth are to prevent the
global network. They are also creating cultural change negotiating away of their future safe climate.
locally, and bringing ambitious global climate agreements
closer to becoming reality. Young people are capable of moving further up the ‘ladder
of participation’ in government and community decision-
Governor Schwarzenegger of California, USA, said in a making. However, to achieve this ideal, a greater societal
speech prior to COP that: understanding of youths’ strengths and real respect for
their unique contribution is required. Youth participation,
“The world’s governments alone cannot make progress. representation, coordination, communication, governance
The world’s governments need cities, states, regions, and continuous capacity-building must be well supported
provinces, universities, youth, activists, scientists and via partnerships, funding and training.
individuals. We must liberate a transformative power
below a national level. That could be the success of COP15.” The rapid growth of the youth movement in the past
few years has been fuelled largely on raw, volunteer
COP15 was a clear step forward in global climate politics, energy and passion, and without a formal international
despite the overwhelming inadequacy of the COP15 structure. Modest investments of funds, time and energy
outcome. Heads of state and government are now in international youth coordination – from individuals,
personally engaged on the climate issue, and civil society organisations and governments – will have a dramatic and
is more determined and active than ever. It became tangible effect in the coming years. Such investments in the
clear that the youth climate movement is a key vehicle youth climate movement are sought and welcomed in 2010.
through which the ‘liberation of transformative power’ that
Schwarzenegger refers to is occurring. Engaging with the youth climate movement today will
have an immeasurable effect in the long term. As youth
engaged with YOUNGO grow older, they will take their
valuable connections, experiences, knowledge and
“This youth movement is setting their globally-conscious ethic into their governments,
an example for the world.” businesses, civil society and their communities, creating
positive change at every step along the way.
Fijian youth delegate, 23

The global youth climate movement is strong and

is growing rapidly. YOUNGO is playing a vital role in “We the youth have no other choice.
consolidating that growth and strategically directing youth We can, we must and we will succeed.”
energy into effective outcomes both within and outside the
UNFCCC negotiations. This work must be supported, as
this rapid growth is not expected to reverse. Instead, it is
gaining momentum.

Youth-produced multimedia: reflections on 2009

• Tom’s Copenhagen story (UKYCC)
• 2009: Explosion of the youth climate movement - Robert van Waarden,
• Copenhagen wrap-up slideshow (SustainUS)
• Expedition Copenhagen Reflection (Will Steger Foundation)
• 2009 into 2010: An Audio Slideshow Narrated by Bill McKibben (
• Youth Opinions on the COP 15 Climate Summit: A Report From UN-Habitat


Copyright 2010 © YOUNGO This report was made possible by the generous contribution
Designed by: provided by the Government of the Netherlands. We wish to
Author: Anna Keenan thank the UNFCCC Secretariat for their assistance and
support in securing this crucial funding, and the
Photo credits: European Youth Forum (YFJ) and Nature and Youth Denmark
Cover images, Pages 2/3, 4, 7, 8, 16, 18/19, (N&U – Natur & Ungdom) for facilitating its distribution.
23 and 26 (RIGHT): Robert van Waarden, We also wish to acknowledge the valuable contribution of the
PAGES 9, 10, 20/21, 22, 24/25 - ECO 50 global youth who participated in interviews, and more who
SINGAPORE, YONG PING LOO contributed to online evaluations, whose views are represented
throughout this report, and also to Sue Lin Wong for her
PAGE 5 - World Association of Girl
valuable academic research paper on YOUNGO.
Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)
Page 11 - Esperanza Garcia Special thanks go to members of the Bottomlining Team in
PAGE 12, 29 - KYLE GRACEY, SustainUS 2009 (Ben Vanpeperstraete, Bjarke Kronborg, Caroline Howe,
PAGE 14/15 - SIERRA STUDENT COALITION Darran Martin, Grace Mwaura, Kyle Gracey, Marcie Smith, Phil
PAGE 21, 27 - KEVIN BUCKLAND Aroneanu and Sebastien Duycks); to the YOUNGO Focal Points
PAGE 26 (LEFT) - DICKINSON COLLEGE for 2009 Wilson Ang and Lina Li; to YOUNGO staff Adrian Yeo,
Aiden Abram, Chironjit Das, Matthew Carroll, Piret Liivak and
LOGOS: Sanka Abayawardena, and to all the passionate members of
P14, ‘COY’ - the global youth climate movement who are working so hard
COVERS, ‘YOUTH CLIMATE’ - to inspire and create positive change.

IMAGE (Back Cover): Fijian youth delegate Leah Wickham, 24, weeps at a press conference on the opening 31
day of COP15. Her homeland is at serious risk from rising sea levels.
Want to find out more?


You might also like