At COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, each day has a theme. Today was Youth & Future Generations Day. There were all kinds of events geared towards the younger attendees at the conference. It was a great opportunity to meet other young people from around the world, including Austria, New Zealand, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, China, Argentina, and Belgium, just to name a few.
I remember when I was at COP 20, there wasn’t much of a sense of urgency to act, even though it was critical to agree to a roadmap for COP 21 in Paris. And while I was not at COP 21, from the impressions I obtained from the media and attendees, everyone saw a sense of urgency to craft a revolutionary deal that had never been seen before. At COP 22 in Marrakech, just like at Lima, I sense that there doesn’t seem be that same sense of urgency.
Due to the fact that the Paris Agreement was adopted at COP 21 last year, this was supposed to be the “COP of Action.” Travelling through Marrakech to the conference, I’ve seen numerous United Nations signs that simply say “ACT” in 6 different languages. But, here at COP 22, it seems to be all talk, and it’s looking as if the nations of the world are reverting back to the pre-Paris status quo business-as-usual approach. Without a doubt, the results of the US election have been felt even here at COP 22. However, we cannot let that stop the youth and future generations of the world from speaking up about climate change and demanding bold action from our leaders.
Youth engagement in climate change negotiations is critical and many youth groups today exemplified this point. Most of the negotiators making the decisions about the future of our planet are 40-50 years older than today’s younger generations. As a result of this, they will not see the worst effects of climate change and don’t have the motivation that we do to enact any change. As the youth of today, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and watch. Our collective passion, frustration, ideas, and dreams need to be heard at the highest level!