The urgent need to include youth in climate change decision-making
Participating in COP27 is a unique opportunity to learn more about others living in the same world. It has been an honour to meet with the rest of the delegation face-to-face and to share ideas, experiences, and stories.
It is exciting to see such a large group of people with so many different concerns and priorities about climate change risks. I am just impressed every day by what I learn as I absorb and analyze what I hear from people with so many different backgrounds.
I always feel privileged when I mention that Jerusalem is my hometown to delegates, and I feel they are so eager to learn more about my people.
The space is huge to accommodate more than 30,000 people as they move around chatting and discussing serious issues that are vital to life and future of the planet.
But, what really caught my attention while moving around the blue zone pavilions was the question of the urgent need for youth participation in decision-making and planning.
In the Canadian debriefing, the (Environment and Climate Change) Minister was asked by a young delegate representative about youth participation and representation at COP.
It is important to take into consideration the presence of youth by empowering them and inviting them to participate in decision-making and strategy planning. All youth, including marginalized youth and those with disabilities, need to be included in the national strategic planning.
Palestinian youth use simple tools to address issues of climate change and the environment such as participating in voluntary cleaning campaigns to collect garbage from forest areas and planting trees in agricultural cooperatives. They work on recycling plastic, glass and bottles. Youth contribute to limiting pollution control. They also play a crucial role in organizing campaigns using social media like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to promote climate change and greener environmental awareness to the public.
Talking about climate change risks and hazards should not exclude youth. Young people are not only victims of climate change. They are valuable contributors to climate action. They are agents of change, entrepreneurs and innovators in Palestine and all over the world.
But major changes are only possible if countries and corporations work on their policies and actions to meet the needs and demands of youth and recognize that youth have the potential to make a difference. They need to be included in these decisions.
Organizations active in climate change need to work with youth and make information on climate change accessible, providing them with educational tools, websites and publications. This not only creates a direct impact on changing youth behaviors and attitudes, but can influence their parents, relatives and families and their communities at large. Youth can work on small actions, or larger initiatives to make change possible.
But this can only happen when youth are part of decision-making and planning at all levels from the local level to COP.
By Hana Elias Antoun Kare, a researcher, trainer and peace activist with Wiam: Palestine Conflict Transformation Centre, West Bank, Palestine.