Meet the young climate leaders who helped set the COP26 agenda

In less than a week, Shakti Ramkumar will be in Milan, Italy, with hundreds of other young climate leaders.

The Vancouver-based youth climate activist will attend the Youth4Climate: driving ambition meeting, which takes place September 28-30 before COP26.

Participants will form working groups and discuss proposals on climate initiatives, including ways to create jobs in renewable energy, pressure countries to prioritize low-carbon actions, and urge the fashion industry to reduce its climate footprint. The results of the conference will be shared with participants and decision makers attending COP26 and will inform the negotiation process at the conference.

It’s not Ramkumar’s first climate conference (he attended COP25 in Madrid, Spain), but this meeting feels especially important. He said he has heard concerns from other attendees (he’s in a WhatsApp group with more than 300 of them) about not being able to attend the event. Fairness at COP26 has been at center stage: many are concerned about the lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines and the cost of quarantine and travel for delegates from many countries, meaning the event with based in Glasgow will not be as fair or effective as it should be.

“I feel like before COVID, I would have been 100% excited … This year, I feel 70% excited, still very excited, but I also feel a greater sense of responsibility this year than any other year, simply acknowledging how unfair it is. it’s traveling right now, ”he said.

“And these conference spaces have always been a privileged basin because so few people are able to attend compared to the number of people on the ground advocating for these issues.”

With COP26 called our “last hope” to achieve the Paris Agreement goal in the world, the role of youth is more important than ever. National Observer of Canada He met with some of the attendees and asked their opinion on Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition and the bigger picture of COP26.

Photo sent by Shakti Ramkumar

Shakti Ramkumar, 25, Vancouver

Director of Communications and Policy Student energy

The UN climate conference in November is called our “last hope” to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and the role of youth is more important than ever. This is what the next # Youth4Climate attendees hope to see at # COP26.

It is the first time a youth summit has been held before a UN climate conference, which is important, Ramkumar said.

“(In previous years), before anyone came to that space, before youth delegations even set foot in the COP, many of the big decisions and parameters for discussion had already been established,” he explained.

It makes this timeline exciting, she said, and leaves her with the hope that youth perspectives will be put on the agenda at COP26, something she and other delegates believe was lacking in the past.

After a federal election, Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition is even more timely for Ramkumar, who is concerned that Canada may appear at COP26 without a clear plan to meet its Paris targets. Those sentiments are combined with questions about the government’s need to support youth-led climate action and provide financial support for youth in the clean energy sector.

In the Canadian youth groups that I am connected to, there is frustration that no party has listened sufficiently to front-line indigenous climate activists during this election, and that there is still no clear path to achieve our goals, ”he said.

Photo sent by Louise Mabulo

Louise Mabulo, 23, Philippines

Founder of The Cacao Project

UN Young Champion of the Earth

Louise Mabulo has seen and felt the climate crisis first hand. The intensification of storms has affected his region in the Philippines, where the country registers an average of 20 typhoons every year.

For the chef, farmer and entrepreneur, her lived experience is related to her defense of the climate. He started The Cacao Project, connecting farmers in his hometown of San Fernando with resistant, long-term and profitable crops, such as cocoa seedlings, after Typhoon Nock-ten destroyed more than 80 percent of the permeable land. in the area in 2016..

“… I can share my own experiences as someone who has witnessed the depth and devastation of the climate crisis first hand in my region through the intensification of typhoons my country experiences,” he said.

When thinking about the future of youth and climate conferences, Mabulo hopes there will be an opportunity to expand the ongoing dialogues, discussions and working groups with young people throughout the year through the UN.

“… It is natural that there is a lot of ground to cover on a topic as extensive as the weather at an annual event,” he said.

Photo sent by Jhannel Tomlinson

Jhannel Tomlinson, 29, Jamaica

GirlsCARE Co-Founder

The event will serve as a place where young people can share their experiences, as well as the climate goals they would like to see achieved, explained Jhannel Tomlinson, who served as the Jamaican youth delegate for both COP24 in Poland and COP25 in Madrid. .

The 29-year-old is a PhD candidate in the department of geography and geology at the University of the West Indies whose work has focused on adaptation to climate change in rural communities in Jamaica. She sees the event as a vital way to bridge the gap between children and decision makers.

“The youth of tomorrow will inherit a world that they did not create,” he said.

“Being the closest generation to them, it is important for us as young people to be able to advocate for the protection of the Earth, the conservation of resources, environmental justice for the vulnerable and for economies that have less premises in the extractive industries.”

Photo sent by Nisreen Elsaim

Nisreen Elsaim, 26, Sudan

Chairman of the UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and Chairman of the Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change

When Nisreen Elsaim talks about what she wants to come out of the Youth4Climate meeting, as well as COP26, she says that “intergenerational justice” is key.

“We are talking about climate impacts that will affect people, specifically young people, 20 years later, 15 years later, 10 years later,” he said.

“Even now, many young people around the world are affected by climate change.”

Elsaim hopes that concrete plans will emerge from the youth-focused event to reduce emissions and support communities facing climate change. He also wants to see a shift in the climate change movement so that young people are taken seriously.

“They should not also be treated as a decoration … we have our knowledge, we are (we are) professionals, we should be invited to different events,” he said.

“(It should be) according to that, to what we can really add to the event, not just to make it more diverse or just say they have youth representation.”

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