- Category: Climate Talks
14 Jun 2013
- Published on Friday, 14 June 2013 08:36
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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of youth participation against climate change, calling them “agents of change” that have a key role when it comes to climate policies.
The secretary-general encourages the youth to get involved by reminding their political leaders of their responsibility to the future generations and to create policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“When I say ‘leaders,’ I’m talking about Government leaders. But I’m also talking about leaders from business, finance, and civil society, including youth,” Mr. Ban told a group of youth delegates attending the U.N. climate change negotiations in Bonn Germany, in an online discussion.
“It is imperative that the powers of all change-agents be harnessed to tackle climate-change – no one group can do it alone,” added Mr. Ban.
The secretary-general emphasized the need for actions, saying that climate change is a threat to development, to the stability of countries and economies, and to the health of the planet. He cited that extreme weather is costing the world trillions of dollars while endangering lives and livelihoods.
As “agents of change,” Mr. Ban told the youth delegates that the youth’s role is to challenge their peers, leaders, and professors to take up action against climate change. He pointed out that the youth has a unique perspective of approaching problems with new ideas, unlike adults who work to preserve business as usual and the status quo.
The youth delegates, part of a group called YOUNGO, or youth non-governmental organizations, wanted a stronger part when it comes to negotiations.
“Parties often speak about how to encourage civil society and youth participation. We have a clear recommendation on how to allow for youth to effectively engage and share our creativity and ideas,” a Belgian Climate Youth Delegate said, speaking on behalf of YOUNGO. “We must follow previous good examples of youth integration and therefore we urge all parties to adopt official youth representatives within national delegations.”
In addition to stronger presence in negotiations, the youth delegate also expressed their want to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, calling them “absurd.” It is the delegates’ recommendation that all developed countries agree to phase fossil fuel subsidies and for developing countries to phase out production subsidies by 2020.
Youth’s awareness of their role
The participation of the youth has been brought up numerous times in different conferences, negotiations, and forums. Based on a 2009-survey titled “Role of youth in combating climate change,” the youth believe that they could play a major role against climate change.
The questionnaire-based survey which was conducted by the India Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in the state of Maharashtra, India, found that over 98.5 percent of the 201 respondents knew that global climate was changing, and 95.5 percent of the respondents knew that human activities were responsible for climate change.
Youth respondents were also assessed on their knowledge regarding international organizations that are working on climate change and its effects. Of the 201 respondents, only 45.3 percent were aware about the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate change, while 45.8 percent knew about the International Governmental Panel of Climate Change. However, more than half of the respondents, 54.5 percent, believed that the youth has a crucial role in tackling climate change. – L. Polintan