COP26

The next big climate change conference, the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), is scheduled to take place in Glasgow, UK, from the 2nd to the 12th of November 2021. It will gather country delegates, scientists, civil society observers, media, business representatives and other key stakeholders to decide on the next steps regarding the climate crisis and evaluate the progress made so far (or the lack thereof). The COP26 president Alok Sharma has the goal of organizing the “most inclusive COP in history”, as a response to the claims from civil society for true climate justice. 

 

We feel like COP26 can only be inclusive if young people from marginalized communities, more specifically BIPOC, from Latin America and the Caribbean are present on the ground in Glasgow. Climate change is a clear and dire threat to Latin America and the Caribbean, a threat in which the region has had little or no role in the making, but in which it is already an important part of the solution.

Please read Unite for Climate Action's official statement below. 

Context:

On 12th December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), negotiators from 197 countries decided on the Paris Agreement and thereby laid the legal groundwork for the world community to commonly decrease the greenhouse gas emissions globally and prevent global temperatures to rise above 1.5 degree celsius, which if temperatures rise above this threshold, would mean even more catastrophic and severe effects on all communities worldwide. 

 

There is enough scientific evidence to prioritize  bold and urgent solutions to avoid the Earth's living system to fall in a dangerous track, and mitigate the already existing effects of our earth already 1°C above pre-industrial global temperatures. However, there is a lot excepticism whether this evidence is or is not conclusive. Even worse, the track to meaningful solutions is jeopardized by a lack of meaningful representation and participation of Climate and Environmental frontliners (those in temperate and tropical areas who are already physically experiencing the majority of the effects of climate change presently) and victims of these effects both in the decision making process and in supporting their solutions, lack of funding to implement solutions, and an ever growing polluting cycle of production and consumption, whose negative effects will only shine in the spotlight after irreversible damage to major nations has been done.

Our Call to Action:

We, the Youth of Unite for Climate Action, and all supporters of this statement, call to action regardless if evidence is or not categorized as “highly probable” but on the basis that the future we want for us and our future generations is different from the crse our global society is immersed in. 

 

We need a healthier, fairer, inclusive and more sustainable world for us and our future generations. For us the climate crisis includes everyone in the world, not only human beings but also nature. We want the solutions and decisions taken to be aimed to reconcile our relationship with nature and among all human beings. We urge the recognition that life begins and ends thanks to nature, thus we must recognize the Earth's boundaries. 

 

We urge that all decisions taken are driven by prioritizing nature rather than economic cost efficiency or interest, therefore the main guiding principles shall be the prevention, precautionary and integration principles.

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Photo by IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth

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Photo by IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth

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Photo by IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth

In order to reach solutions we need to recognize and address the following:

  • The lack of BIPOC, vulnerable and marginalized youth participation is a problem of social injustice, lack of true innovation, and racism. 

  • The inclusion of vulnerable and marginalized BIPOC youth brings a necessary and different perspective, to address the climate crisis from  a claim for an antiracist, diverse and inclusive society that develops around an ecocentric global view, a claim for a different future. The ideas of BIPOC youth brings solutions that youth of other nations wouldn't normally think of, because of our different backgrounds and way of life.

  • Diversity is the strength that the COP procedures need to bring to the negotiating table. Accountability into inception.

  • Adaptation without Mitigation and effective  recycling is an endless polluting cycle. 

  • A fair decision making process at COP includes 3 elements: procedural, distributional, and restorative.

  • Climate Change commitments and pledges shall be coherent and include all sorts of polluting activities, such as emissions from aircraft, cargo ships, and mining that directly or indirectly is required in technological solutions.

  • The climate crisis is already here, so adaptation and discussions about loss and damage must be at the center of the negotiations, as mitigation already is.

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Photo by IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth

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Photo by IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth

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Photo by IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth

We acknowledge and recognize that we live in an intertwined crisis: climate, environmental crisis, and the social and economical crisis. We exhort world leaders to address those in an articulated manner through a comprehensive and holistic approach in the following:

A. An anti racist, inclusive, and diverse world policy culture shall be fostered to  allow BIPOC, Youth active representation, participation,  and empowerment in every COP:

  1. Strengthening and capacity building for BIPOC youth to ensure real representation: We request the floor at the COP Plenary, and each negotiation stage for at least one person from the invisible BIPOC majority of each country.

  2. We request 30% of virtual and physical spaces with financial aid at COP side events destined to Youth, BIPOC, vulnerable and marginalized  Youth and communities.

  3. The yearly budget for COPs shall include means for BIPOC participation to reduce barriers from structurized social injustice and racism in the decision making process. This shall include funding and support for visas, transportation, accommodation, health insurance, and any complex bureaucratic procedure, among any other necessary.

  4. We request targeted scholarships to assure at least 500 BIPOC, vulnerable and marginalized Youth participants in the next COP.

  5. We urge the use of technology to scale up the widespread of messages, attendance, collection of views in surveys, forums, workshops among others to ease the access to all YOUTH in the Global South.

  6. UNFCCC and all UNsystem Agencies shall reduce language barriers in their strategies, programs, capacity building, preparatory meetings, and all COP related events by including either simultaneous interpretations, translations, or subtitles in at least all UN languages.

  7. Execute a world wide anti racist and inclusive communication strategy in the UNFCCC and along the UN System in at least all official UN languages. This shall be cross-agencies, and intersectional with concrete actions to promote Youth participation and representation in policies, solutions, statements, and planning.

  8. UNFCCC is urged to execute a communicational and capacity building strategy to all its employees, staff and across the UN System about environmental racism, colonialism, post colonialism, and

  9. UN installations shall serve also as means to assure connectivity to UN events such webinars, workshops, virtual meetings and conferences.

B. Foster a world culture of engagement, acceptance and respect to Youth involvement by promoting Young empowerment at national and local level on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Action Plans, Adaptation goals and Loss and Damage strategies:

  1. We urge UNFCCC and Parties to articulate existing efforts among the UN System, Academia, Non Governmental Organizations, Public and private initiatives to assure an Anti racist and inclusive platform to empower, educate and achieve a social transformation towards more Youth participation in decision making process at international, national and local conferences.

  2. Support more participation for youth through clusters in each country through National Climate Conferences, Youth Councils, or Working Groups for Youth, BIPOC, vulnerable and marginalized  individuals to actively participate in the definition of NDCs, Action Plans, and execution of climate finance that comes from Grants and technical cooperation.

  3. Designate an UNFCCC Working Group to articulate a Knowledge Hub across the UN system with Public and Private Partnerships to widespread knowledge, information, and data about Climate Change policy and solutions.

  4. To reach worldwide at least 700,000 Youth from BIPOC, vulnerable and marginalized background to have access to online or physical capacity building on Racism, Decolonialism, Climate Change Policy, Negotiations, UN process and all intertwined Agreements,

  5. To have a widely known open free access knowledge hub for all UNFCCC events, capacity building and others related, such as: Youtube.

  6. We encourage the creation of opportunities for BIPOC, vulnerable and marginalized Youth internships, traineeships, and related employment with an economical remuneration. No more UN-paid internships.

C. Finance by the most developed countries shall be compelled, and raised up to  in a multi year plan to accomplish immediate real solutions:

  1. The execution of financing in developing countries shall include a minimum of 30% to be used to scale up environmental sustainable solutions from BIPOC, vulnerable and marginalized groups or communities.

  2. UNFCCC shall include a program to fund and support to BIPOC, vulnerable and marginalized youth solutions and innovations

  3. The financial contributions shall be first prioritized to most vulnerable states to perform environmental restoration. Countries will be prioritized based on vulnerabilities from colonialism and neocolonialism practices.

  4. UNFCCC shall articulate a Worldwide Working Group to address the quest to financing, and reduction of goods production, and pollution while keeping a stable economy. The challenges, findings, and proposals shall be open, participative, and public.

D. Technological solutions shall respect Earth boundaries and avoid externalization, or escalation of any other environmental problem such as mining, water and soil pollution, biodiversity and wildlife loss, among others stated in other UN Treaties and Protocols:

  1. We demand by 2025 that the Parties allocate climate finance from grants  and technical assistance to the amplification and articulation of an Earth Observatory with existing technology in geographic information systems (satellite, etc.), and participatory early warning systems for monitoring the use, exploitation, restoration and natural regeneration of nature. Observation activities will include knowledge transfer to BIPOC and locals.

  2. We demand that technological solutions approach the refurbishment of existing technology and reuse of minerals rather than the exploration and exploitation of new, regardless of the economic cost effectiveness. We are reminded that the long lasting environmental externalities of business haven't been economically calculated.

E. Climate objectives must be achieved in accordance with and subject to the human rights of the most vulnerable communities:

  1. We demand UNFCCC Parties to encourage discussions towards socio environmental conflicts and human rights situations in the negotiations.

  2. Parties must be accountable for their human rights situation when presenting their progress on climate goals.