SPECIAL COP21 – Youth calling for substantial participation in the UNFCCC process

Youth was the protagonist of Day 4 at COP 21 (Thursday, Dec. 3). The “Youth and future generations’ Day”, jointly organized by the Constituency of Youth Non-Governmental Organizations to the UNFCCC (YOUNGO) the UN Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change, and the UNFCCC secretariat, featured a series of side and special events looking at climate change issues from a youth perspective.

Among them, the Intergenerational Inquiry event provided young delegates with the opportunity to share experiences, initiatives and ideas being implemented worldwide as well as to reflect on the role of youngsters in the UNFCCC process.

The event saw the participation of the UN Envoy on Youth Alhendawi, the French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal, and the UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figueres. The Secretary thanked young people for playing an active part in the fight against climate change, which she defined as the “biggest intentional shift” in the history of human development.

Young leaders shared the main results of the “Conference of the Youth”, which paved the way to COP21 from Nov. 26 to 28, and led to the production of a Manifesto with proposed strategic points and guiding values for climate action. The Manifesto, which was handed to the French President Holland, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Fabius and the special UN envoy for youth Alhendawi, called inter alia for a reform towards an enhanced inclusiveness of youth in the decision making process.

The event also provided opportunities to share the experiences of the UNESCO Youth Forum and of several NGOs projects undertaken in Ghana, Canada, Australia and Nepal. Finally, some words of discomfort were expressed by YOUNGO activists because of Secretary Figueres leaving the room before the end of the event.

The day was also marked by non-official initiatives. Among them was the flash- mob organized by YOUNGO to protest against the proposal by some developed countries to remove reference to human right in Article 2 of the draft Paris agreement. Dozens of youngster lied down on the floor of the civil society pavilion, symbolizing the attempt to exclude the youth, indigenous people and women from the Paris agreement.


Written by Elisa Calliari in Paris, France. In collaboration with Agenzia di Stampa Giovanile sulla Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, Sostenibilità Ambientale e Cambiamenti Climatici (Youth Press Agency on Climate Change, Development Cooperation and Sustainable Development).

[Image: Youth and future generation’s Day at COP21, on Dec. 3, 2015. Photo Credit: Elisa Calliari]