Young, ambitious and lost at a UNFCCC conference? You’re not alone.
Keeping Up to Speed with Climate Negotiations in 2018
Hundreds of delegates from all over the world are already making their way to the first day of climate talks at the resumed 48th sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) subsidiary bodies, or SB48-2, held here in Bangkok. Delegates represent both Party (countries) and non-Party (observers) stakeholders, all which champion their own agendas.
The stakes are high in Bangkok. The desired outcomes here are to build robust guidelines which will steer the completion of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) at the 24th Conference of Parties (COP), which is to be held in Poland later in December this year. The PAWP serves to operationalise the Paris Agreement, and if negotiations fail at COP24, there is little hope to limit the rise of global temperatures to 2℃.
Country negotiators are expected to bring their best at SB48-2 – with many tools and recommendations being prepared beforehand by vigilant groups to ensure fruitful discussions. With veteran non-Party entities hot on their heels and no one willing to leave anything to chance, the pressure is on for the Parties.
Like every UNFCCC conference, SB48-2 welcomes new, young faces eager to contribute to the process. However, it’s easy for youth voices to get lost in the midst of complex discussions and tense negotiations. As conversations deepen, some find themselves asking the question: where do the young go? YOUNGO wants you.
A Platform for Youth Participation
YOUNGO is one of the 9 constituencies under the UNFCCC. The constituencies are meant to mirror the 9 major working groups established as part of Agenda 21 which was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Agenda 21 emphasised the need for participation of all sectors to achieve sustainable development, and YOUNGO became the constituency for youth to actively be involved throughout the history of the UNFCCC. YOUNGO’s contribution to the UNFCCC is centred around raising concerns on current and future climate crises, providing inputs from a youth perspective, and holding leaders accountable to their actions.
YOUNGO serves as a coalition of hundreds of different youth organisations, and coordinates more than 20 working groups on issues ranging from climate finance to human rights. To date, there are over 160 youth organisations and more than 3500 individuals who engage with the constituency.
The constituency famously champions capacity building in youth advocates to participate in the annual COP through the Conference of Youth (COY) in addition to giving them opportunities through various mediums to contribute in the UNFCCC process. This makes it the perfect platform for new climate advocates to find their calling and build their experience in the international climate scene.
Members of the constituency are active at a local, national, regional and international level.
There is no hierarchical structure in the constituency and all members of YOUNGO are connected via their open mailing list or other informal channels of communication. In fact, you can get started here. All decisions in the constituency are done by consensus, giving all engaging entities an equal voice.
Although facing its own unique set of challenges, YOUNGO continues to push through to carry out its duties. Coordinated by two focal points, one from the Global North and Global South respectively, the constituency values fair representation. Working in tandem with the focal points are the Bottomlining Team (BLT), a group of experienced volunteers who provide oversight, facilitation and support to the entire constituency. With its own host of movers and shapers, YOUNGO proves that experience has nothing to do with age and it has built itself into an influential body within the UNFCCC.
MYD and YOUNGO at SB48-2
The Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) has engaged closely with YOUNGO for a few years now, and continues to do so today at the latest edition of climate conferences here in Bangkok. With our members actively participating in different working groups and picking up positions as facilitators within the constituency, we are hoping to carry the Spirit of Paris in raising ambitions, particularly from a youth perspective, at SB48-2 in the coming days.
On a personal note, this is my first UNFCCC conference and it has definitely been a steep learning curve. It has been one day in and I have a million questions, many which I haven’t even yet learnt to ask. I am thankful for the MYD team, the folks at YOUNGO, and all of the other fiery spirits which continue to shape not only my experience, but the future of our planet.
“We may have not yet found our glory; but I will gladly join the fight.”
My first takeaway from SB48-2 is that climate action constitutes more than what happens in the negotiations or a conference. It can start from our personal attitudes towards the issue and how we choose to cooperate with others to achieve our collective goals from our own unique perspectives.
Written by Daniel Teoh