What can a small organization or mammoth institution learn from the massive youth-propelled climate action movement that demands real decision-making participation?
At the COP27 in Egypt, young climate activists continue to fight efforts to be co-opted [pun intended] by token inclusion by the bloated United Nations bureaucracy. But other advocates have been demanding an inside track and this year’s global conference marks the first time that youth have an official platform.
The new Children and Youth Pavilion is similar to mega-booths by countries to exhibit their green priorities and engage prominent government leaders in policy discussions.
This structural change can be traced to the Paris Agreement Article 12 Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) which demands countries must empower people to be part of the solution to the climate crisis.
One of the key negotiators believes their Children and Youth Pavilion lays the foundation and “acknowledges power” but she is not naive.
Politicians coming to this space taking photos — not necessarily taking the time to ask what’s going on — are an example of what happens in negotiations when you come to COP.Halley Campbell, Co-Lead ACE
The uncompromising climate strikers outside COP27 including protestors from the Global South undoubtedly pushed the powers-that-be to provide insider status to what might be described as a more compliant group of young activists.
“We need to create a mechanism of interaction.”António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
This reckoning and commitment signal the verdict that adult-run institutions must end the automatic exclusion of an entire segment of the population – especially those under age 18.
Scale, Strategic Savvy + Staying Power
Since the youngest generations rank the climate crisis among their top concerns and they will be impacted for many more years than any other age group, here is one trend line. The scale of their global network, their strategic savvy, and their staying power affirm this seismic shift.
Youth “Competence” is a Game Changer suggests that when adults learn about the civic leadership of individual young people, their attitudes replace tired stereotypes with more positive opinions of Generation Z.
Notice this term appears in this June 2022 article, Climate Competence: Youth Climate Activism and Its Impact on International Human Rights Law.
Children and young people have demonstrated in the sphere of climate activism extraordinary competence in relation to climate science, online activism and media communication . . .They are shifting the human-centric, highly procedural arena of international human rights law towards an approach which better encompasses person-environment connections.Professor Aoife Daly, University College Cork, Ireland
The Children and Youth Pavilion at COP27 has its own magnetic field that introduces new ways of interacting with people of all ages and positions of power. This intergenerational synergy offers clues to any organization that recognizes this is a win-win for full-scale problem solving.
- Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE)
- Boost Your Org’s Talent Pool
- Climate Competence: Youth Climate Activism and Its Impact on International Human Rights Law
- Climate Youth Negotiators Programme
- COP27 – UN Climate Change Conference
- Leading Thinkers Rely on Young Minds
- Pew Research Center – Gen Z, Millennials Stands Out for Climate Change
- YOUNGO – Youth Constituency of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change