The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), of which most UN countries are party to, was set up to help the nations address the climate change challenges globally. The 16th conference of parties will be held this December in splendid Cancun, Mexico. As expected, governments, co operations, international agencies, and NGOs as usual will spend billions and millions of money before and during the conference; basically to negotiate on how to stop climate change. They will evaluate their performance in implementing the convention, discuss new actions after the failed Copenhagen Accord they had last year. We also expect them to spend more time discussing financing climate mitigation and adaptation, carbon trading, and of course, cutting the emissions. This will be a negotiation period, and not the actual acts by the governments. Back in their countries, the very activities that contribute to climate change could be increasing in magnitude and technology.
While this has been ongoing for the past 16 years, the over 190 party countries are daily faced with the challenge of providing even the very basic human needs to their citizens. This has been worsened by the impacts of climate change in these nations. Food, water, shelter, and education are no longer affordable and parents have to work extra hard to provide to their families. In the developing countries, the governments have to continuously accumulate debts from the rich countries and financial institutions to ensure that their citizens have at least the basic needs. The loans are never enough for the growing population and their needs.
Even so, we as children and youth have a role to play in ensuring that we stop our leaders from continuously negotiating for our future, and responding to the immediate needs and future strategies.
This September, the Convention secretariat has organized a workshop in Gambia, West Africa, where governments, NGOs, international co operations and other partners will meet to report back on the progress of the implementation of the Article 6 of the UNFCCC on Education and Outreach. This might be the only Article in the Convention that specifically addresses how the children and youth could play a role in addressing climate change at a national level. It stresses the role of the parties in ensuring the involvement of the children and youth in climate change mitigation and adaptation. As well, the meeting will focus on the youth experiences in the implementation of the Article and other related climate change activities
This is where you as a young person have a role to play. It’s our duty to stop our leaders from negotiating our survival by demanding a report on how they have implemented the Article with relevance to our needs and rights as a vulnerable group in the society. We need to ensure that we are part of the decisions that the government makes towards the implementation of this Article 6.
We need to discuss with our governments how they can review our education system so that it equips us with skills, knowledge and capacity to respond to climate change. We need to work closely with the Civil Society Organizations that support the implementation of Article 6 with specific interest to the role of youth and children in the strategies.
It’s our time to raise our voices and be heard, and not only that, contribute in our own individual small ways to solve climate change. It’s time to voice our actions on climate change.