What young people want from world leaders at COP27

Fiona Stainer

This year, the first-ever Children and Youth Pavilion will be hosted by young people at COP27 to give them a crucial platform to tell world leaders what they want to see at the global climate conference.

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Children and young people all over the world are among the most at risk from the climate crisis, with over half the world’s children living in areas at high risk of climate and environmental hazards.

“Climate change is disproportionately affecting children, young people, and will harm future generations. A child born today would experience four times the extreme weather events than we do. This impact is unjust. Our world leaders must act immediately. The first-ever Children and Youth Pavilion at COP27 in Egypt will tackle this injustice by platforming our voices.”

Dr. Omnia El Omrani, COP27 Youth Envoy

Amplifying the voices of children and youth

The Children and Youth Pavilion will be a dedicated space in the negotiation zone at COP27 in Egypt next month alongside world leaders, ministers and delegates, and will amplify youth voices calling for climate justice and demanding climate action. The Pavilion will be entirely led by young people, representing the world’s most influential and powerful children and youth networks and NGOs. 

Right at the heart of the Blue Zone (the place where climate negotiations happen), the Children and Youth Pavilion will provide an area for discussion, education, creativity, and policy briefings, led and curated by young people.  

It will bring together and amplify the voices of young people from across the world in solidarity, delivering a rare opportunity for youth to engage directly with world leaders, decision-makers and delegates from over 200 countries. 

In this context, it’s imperative that children and young people are given a seat at the table in discussions that will determine their future.

 

“Every year world leaders and the UN climate summit say that they’re listening to the youth and most affected people yet we’re still on the path of destruction… This year’s Youth Pavilion will give us the chance to amplify the youth’s voice without the barriers and obstacles we often meet at these official events.  

This is a challenge to world leaders to go to the Youth Pavilion to truly listen and learn, so that they can see first-hand what true international solidarity and global collaboration for a better world looks like.” 

Mitzi Jonelle Tan, activist and convenor of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines  

Understandably, young people remain sceptical of big climate conferences, full of talk and empty promises, frustrated by the lack of action in the face of the climate emergency.  So by creating an opportunity at the heart of the conference, young people will inspire others by championing youth-led solutions to climate change happening all across the world, and share their knowledge and expertise across all sectors of the climate agenda.  Through meetings with leaders and policymakers they will make their voices heard. 

UN Goodwill Ambassador and climate activist Vanessa Nakate is one of many young people who want support for loss and damage. 

“We are tired of promises and pledges,” she says.  “At COP26, pledges to provide loss and damage finance to developing nations were yet again disregarded at the hands of the world’s wealthiest and most polluting nations. At COP27, young people will have a seat at the table. We will use that platform and our voices to demand for climate finance for mitigation, adaptation and a separate fund for loss and damage.” 

Why COP27 is important

Of course, COP27 is not without controversy, taking place against Egypt’s backdrop of human rights violations and under the sponsorship of Coca-Cola (one of the world’s top plastic polluters). Experts from US White House advisers to Green Party MP Caroline Lucas have expressed concerns. The climate crisis is a human rights crisis, and civil rights organisations fear that justice violations in Egypt will hinder meaningful participation from the groups and communities most at risk from climate change.    

But it is vital that the voices of young people across the world are heard. The Children and Youth Pavilion provides a place for a new generation to engage in the global policymaking process. We have a responsibility to ensure that young people are included and are at the centre of COP27. After all, it is their future at stake. 

COP27 is being held in Africa, a continent in which 70% of the population are under 30, and where several vulnerable communities live on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Young people will demand that world leaders listen to and prioritise policies to protect those most affected by the climate crisis and its impacts, especially Indigenous Peoples and those in the Global South. 

Young people working tirelessly behind the scenes to make the Children and Youth Pavilion a reality, have a unique opportunity to have their voices heard. Let’s make world leaders listen at COP27. 

Supporters of the Children and Youth Pavilion

Youth partners include YOUNGO, MOCK COP, the International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS), the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC), the SDG7 Youth Constituency, Youth4Nature, the UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group, the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus (GIYC), the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH), Fridays for Future and the UNFPA Joint Youth Working Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Climate Change

 

Other Institutional Partners include The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), UNICEF, African Union, Save the Children, the UNFCCC Climate Champions, and Greenhouse Communications.  

 

To keep up to date with the Children and Youth Pavilion at COP27, follow #GenerateAction 

For more on COP27, try: We cannot give up on COP27