Youth impact climate change negotiations

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The WAGGGS delegates have been very busy in the last few days, submitting a document to COP 16 which guarantees equal access to education for girls and boys and recognises non-formal education as an effective method to deliver climate change educations, amongst others.

This is a recollection of the events, by one of the delegates, Katie Scales.

What happened before COP 16?

The New Delhi Work Programme (NDWP), 2002 - 2007: recommends integrating Article 6 activities in existing climate change programmes and strategies. 

Amended New Delhi Work Programme (aNDWP), 2007 - 2012: recommends implementing national Article 6 'plans of action'. It also suggests the inclusion of population groups such as youth. 

Mid-Term review and draft conclusions from the Subsidiary Board for Implementation (SBI), 2010: Largely thanks to active lobbying by Youth Non-governmental (YOUNGO) representatives, Parties, Inter-governmental Organisations (IGOs) and observers were asked for submissions to feed into the SBI's report on ‘essential needs for, potential gaps in, barriers to, and progress in the implementation of the aNDWP.' WAGGGS, together with the European Youth Forum (YFJ), handed in a submission!

The main focus points of WAGGGS' submission included:

  • recognition of youth as important stakeholders in the implementation of Article 6
  • recognition of non-formal education (for example peer education, learning by doing, experiential learning) as an effective method to deliver climate change education
  • guaranteeing equal access to education for girls and boys 
  • promotion of youth delegates in official government delegations
  • ensuring funding is available for Article 6 activities 

What happened at COP 16?

Step One: All submissions (including the one from WAGGGS!) were put together by the UNFCCC Secretariat into a 'Synthesis Report', which was released shortly before COP 16 started. It was really exciting to see that a lot of our points had found their way into the Synthesis Report.

Step Two: We then had to see what the SBI would make of the Synthesis Report. Originally they planned to have informal meetings (where NGOs would be most likely unable to attend), to discuss the Report and propose conclusions. Lesotho however, speaking on behalf of the G77 negotiating group, managed to turn the informal meetings into one Contact Group (where NGOs are allowed). The aim then became to agree on a decision that would be put forward to the SBI and later to COP. This was a great success as a decision is far more powerful than a conclusion.

Step Three: There was great concern that it would not be possible to have a text for a decision put together and agreed upon within just 90 minutes of a Contact Group. So the YOUNGO Article 6 Policy Group, which WAGGGS is part of, spent a lot of time and effort lobbying parties to not only to include our main points in the text, but also to push for a quick discussion in the Contact Group. We approached the G77 and many individual G77 countries, the EU and several individual EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway among others. All in all we were very busy!

Step Four: The Contact Group took place on Friday, 3 December. At first, the discussions started very slowly, concentrating on just the introduction to the text. But there were almost 100 youth present in the room, all in the same blue T-shirts sporting the slogan: "You have been negotiating all my life. You cannot tell me you need more time."

This statement transformed the atmosphere in the room, and a willingness for compromise arose from all Parties. Not only that, but the final agreed text includes all the important points YOUNGO raised; youth as important stakeholders in training and participation, non-formal education, increase access to funding for Article 6, the gender perspective, and a lot more.

On Saturday 4 December, the Article 6 text passed through the SBI and will be taken forward to the COP this week - an extremely exciting final result, and one which the YOUNGO Article 6 Policy Group, together with many of the WAGGGS delegation greeted with cheers in the plenary. This is the first time that youth has such an impact on climate negotiations.  

Article 6: What is it?

Article 6 makes up a small but very important section in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It talks about the need to combat climate change through:

  • education
  • training
  • raising public awareness
  • encouraging public participation
  • improving public access to information
  • international cooperation


You deserve a Golden Star!

COP 16- WAGGGS delegatesDuring the initial SBI meeting, the Chair Robert Owen-Jones stated: “If you manage to get a COP decision in 90 minutes, you deserve a golden star”.  Consequently, before the final SBI meeting the YOUNGO Article 6 Policy Group handed out golden stars to all of the Article 6 negotiators!

We hope that the spirit of progress and compromising will also be present in other areas of the negotiations.  

You can also view the Article 6 Press Conference.

Katie Scales, WAGGGS Youth Delegate, UK / Our Chalet

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