Representatives for the more than a billion under-30s in the Commonwealth have called on leaders at the start of COP27 in Egypt to end youth tokenism and pledge more finance and support for youth-led climate solutions.
The Commonwealth Youth Statement on Climate Change, released today a COP27, appeals to governments and change-makers to recognise young people as partners and solution providers in the fight against climate change – and commit to solid partnerships that finance and forward youth-created solutions and technologies.
Youth climate action
Collectively, youth leaders from across the 13 Commonwealth Youth Networks, led by the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN) and the newly-launched Commonwealth Youth for Sustainable Urbanisation (CYSU) network, have made demands for action on seven key climate recommendations; with particular focus on global public health, the transition to low-carbon technology, developing sustainable cities and ocean protection.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, welcomed the proposals, saying:
“Young people across the world are already battling the impacts of climate change. Without action, the force and frequency of violent weather, shortages of food, water and the threat of rising seas will continue to intensify.
“Our youth activists have proven to be some of the strongest voices in the fight to stay below 1.5C warming. They have taken the lead in putting this existential issue to the very top of national and global agendas. Often, they have been the catalyst for action and positive change.
“If we neglect their voices, we will fail in our mission to find solutions to this climate crisis and in our pursuit of a just and sustainable world.”
Call for investment
In recognition of the talent and drive of the under-30s, the statement calls for increased investment in schools and universities to encourage the development of innovative and climate-smart solutions; monetary-backing of youth-led multi-sectoral climate programmes; and cementing young people as key partners in climate mitigation, adaptation, and recovery efforts in line with Article 11 of the Paris Agreement.
Lucky Abeng, CYCN Grassroots Engagement and Participation Lead, said:
“We hope to use this Youth Statement to change the narrative of youths demanding action from governments. Instead, we want to uplift the Commonwealth’s young people, rightly spotlighting their role as creators and innovators, with the potential to generate global solutions to the climate crisis.
Michelle Maeclem, CYSU Steering Committee member, said:
“We need governments and societies to embrace the potential within youth populations. Only by countries increasing investment into the research, development, trial, implementation, and protection of youth-created and led technologies, can we see real progress on combatting climate change.”
Sustainable cities and healthcare access
The statement outlines how inaction on climate change threatens the future of all young people, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable and marginalised, and burdening the under-30s with the exacerbated challenges it brings.
These include displacement, loss of livelihoods, water and food insecurity, access to healthcare and the rise of new climate related diseases and worsening mental health due to climate anxiety.
With an additional 2.5 billion people set to be living in the world’s towns and cities by 2050, the statement also calls for immediate action to implement sustainable policies to help these areas respond effectively to climate challenges.
- The Commonwealth’s 56 member countries have a combined population of 2.5 billion people, of which more than 60% are under 30 years of age.
- The Commonwealth Secretariat’s youth development work is delivered through the Commonwealth Youth Programme, which has been supporting member countries for 49 years.
- We provide technical assistance and support for national, regional and global youth networks from such as the Commonwealth Youth Council and the Commonwealth Students Association. The full list of networks can be found here.
- Other Commonwealth Secretariat work on youth includes The Youth Development Index (YDI), the Commonwealth Youth Awards and convening a four-yearly Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM) for the discussion and promotion of youth issues.
- The next CYMM will take place in Pakistan in January 2023. Next year has also been declared Year of Youth by Commonwealth Heads of Governments, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, and will see an increased focus on youth advocacy work across the Commonwealth.
- Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat