More than 1000 of young people from across the world on Sunday gathered for the Conference of Youth (COY18) in Dubai to amplify their voices as they advocate for climate change.
The 18th edition of the COY18, which is running at EXPO City Dubai until November 28, is being held in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP28).
In her keynote speech, H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment said the UAE has always believed in the power of youths and has taken the lead in training and up-skilling children and youth activists so they can be helpful in climate change action.
“Young people are the future generations and agents of change and sharing your stories and your innovative ideas for climate change solutions is vital,” said Almheiri.
Almheiri added: “When it comes to empowering youth for a resilient future, our approach is three-fold. The first is to provide young people with opportunities to access climate information and better understand the issues the planet faces. We then provide them with the tools to decide on the best course of action to take, and finally, we build a platform to make their voices heard. I am proud of the work the UAE has done to ensure this at COP28 ”.
“We should work together to take action in the fight against climate change so as to build a future that works for everyone’s dreams and aspirations” said Almheiri.
She noted that young people will be positively impacted by the COY18 and COP28.
H.E. Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Chief Executive Officer of Expo City Dubai Authority said the mechanisms of climate change are complex and change itself.
“This is a critical moment of our history and it's incumbent upon all of us, people of all ages and different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures to listen to one another to learn from one another and act with impact at the interest of one another to ensure that the effects of climate change are addressed,” she said.
“Two years ago, the UAE announced its 2050 strategic initiative where we pledged to underpin dynamic economic growth with positive environmental impact. We did this by engaging stakeholders from all sectors including energy and economy,” Al Hashimy added.
The opening was attended by Her Excellency Shamma bint Suhail Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, COP28 Youth Climate Champion and Deputy Chair of the Arab Youth Center, and His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Digital Economy, Artificial Intelligence and Remote Work Applications.
Voices of youth critical in shaping climate change
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) said June and July were the hottest months of this year. “Youth voices are critical in shaping climate change and making things happen. Let’s fight as one to help the future you deserve,” he said.
Amy E. Pope, Director General (DG) of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said young people will be impacted by the COP28 “but we need voices of the youth. Climate change is one of the greatest issues of our time and for many of you in this room, it will be the defining challenge of your future,” said Pope. “All of the elements of the UN agreement are in place. We have all the information and the tools we need to make tangible change and change isn't happening fast enough.”
She noted that this year will probably be the hottest year recorded in human history and that there are already 31.8 million internal displacements due to weather related hazards as of 2022.
COY18 serves as a platform for climate advocacy, capacity building and policy development training to prepare the youth for their participation in international climate discussions and events.
The three-day conference has been organised by the Arab Youth Center, The American University of Sharjah (AUS), and New York University Abu Dhabi’s GreenHouse.
The conference offers the youth an opportunity to discuss and support intergovernmental climate change policies and promote change at the local and international levels.
Organised by the Children and Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (YOUNGO, UNFCCC), the event is in line with the work of the global network of children and youth activists and non-governmental organisations shaping international climate change policies and formally representing youth concerns in UNFCCC processes.