This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt, more commonly referred to as COP27, is the first ever to give children an official platform: the Children and Youth Pavilion.
Considering how young activists like Vanessa Nakate and Greta Thunberg have led the climate campaign in recent years, and the fact that young people will shoulder the lion’s share of the consequences of climate change, it’s surprising that younger generations have never had the chance to be represented at a Climate Change Conference.
This welcome development allows youth to undertake conversations and policy briefings at the newly announced Children & Youth Pavilion at COP27. It is situated in the ‘Blue Zone,’ the inner UN-managed region where global negotiations will take place.
“Climate change is disproportionately affecting children, young people, and will harm future generations,” says Dr. Omnia El Omrani, COP27 Youth Envoy.
“A child born today would experience four times the extreme weather events than we do. This impact is unjust. Our world leaders must act immediately.”
Omrani goes on to say that the Children and Youth Pavilion at COP27 would address this injustice by providing a forum for young people.
“We will convene young experts and climate advocates globally to showcase the groundbreaking initiatives led by youth around the world, and accelerate and integrate our engagement in real climate policy discussions.”
Over the course of two weeks, the COP27 agenda focuses on a number of themed days. ‘Youth and Future Generations Day’ was on November 10.
Why a Youth pavilion at COP27 is important
Young people are understandably skeptical of climate talks. They are frequently disappointed by politicians’ broken promises and the lack of immediate action required to address the climate issue.
Mitzi Jonelle Tan, activist and convener of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, expresses these sentiments clearly: “Every year world leaders and the UN climate summit say that they’re listening to the youth and most affected people yet we’re still on the path of destruction…
“This year’s youth pavilion will give us the opportunity to amplify the voice of the youth without the barriers and obstacles that we frequently encounter at these official events.”
The United Nations Climate Summit is being hosted in Africa this year. 70 percent of the continent’s population is under 30, and some vulnerable populations are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. It emphasizes the significance of listening to the voices of young people during COP27.
The newest assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made it apparent that we are currently in extremely dangerous territory. The youth, children, and those yet to be born will inherit this threat.
What do young people want from COP27?
Young people demand that world leaders listen to and prioritize measures that protect those most vulnerable to climate change, particularly Indigenous Peoples and those in the Global South.
“At COP26, pledges to provide loss and damage finance to developing nations were yet again disregarded at the hands of the world’s wealthiest and most polluting nations,” said Vanessa Nakate, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and climate activist.
“At COP27, young people will have a seat at the table. We will use that platform and our voices to demand climate finance for mitigation, adaptation, and a separate fund for loss and damage.”
The Children and Youth Pavilion is organized by youth-led organizations and institutions that foster youth engagement and inclusion, such as Fridays for Future and the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition.
The pavilion’s other institutional partners include Save the Children and UNICEF.