About 1,000 young people from around the world have gathered in Cancun, calling for intergenerational equity and strong climate solutions at the United Nations talks.
Thursday, December 2nd was “Young and Future Generations Day,” a day dedicated to celebrating the power and unity of the youth movement, but also to highlighting the critical role that young people play in the international negotiations.
“Young people will be the most affected by the climate change and consequences of negotiators’ inaction,” said Carra Cheslin, a member of SustainUS, a U.S. youth-based volunteer organization. “While we appreciate
the opportunity to be involved in the UN process, we believe youth should have an even stronger presence at the talks.”
Nearly 50 young people lined up outside Cancunmesse Thursday morning as negotiators walked by to board buses for the Moon Palace, where the climate talks are taking place. They demonstrated in silence as a show of solidarity for the hundreds of thousands of youth fighting for climate change solutions.
“The purpose of this day is to bring the need for intergenerational implementation to the attention of the decision makers present in Cancun,” said Alina Pokhrel of the Nepalese Youth for Climate Action. “We are urging them to follow our lead and understand the necessity of international cooperation and concern for the welfare of the young and future generations regardless of national borders.”
Nearly 100 other youths gathered at organizations’ booths in Cancunmesse Thursday afternoon to “sell their futures.” With colorful posters and props, they created a fake marketplace where participants could trade and bargain natural resources, such as trees and clean air. The message, organizers say, is that negotiators are “selling our futures” every time they neglect to reach a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty.
Young climate scientists and activists from the United States, Canada, South Asia, France and Kenya also spoke about the actions they’ve taken back home to find solutions to climate change and research that they hope will inspire policymakers to craft science-based regulations that address the most challenging climate impacts.
“We want to raise awareness about the threat of climate change globally and let people know that it’s possible to reduce emissions if every individual makes an effort,” said Trine Thomsen from Denmark representing the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Other “Young & Future Generations Day” events included:
- Hug Kyoto Day: Japanese youth and others offered free hugs to delegates to show support for Kyoto’s now-rocky, 13-year-old relationship with Japan. There was also a photo booth where delegates could pose with “Kyoto.” See photos here.
- A climate action dance for solutions led by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts outside the Azteca Building at the Moon Palace. The dance was first presented at a climate change conference in Canada in 2005 and made popular in Copenhagen last year when hundreds of youth performed it on the opening day of the negotiations.
- An interactive forum on the personal experiences of Canadian, South Asian & U.S. youth with climate change and strategies in activism to stop it hosted by SustainUS, Clean Energy Nepal and Tides Canada Initiatives Society.
- A discussion between youth delegates, UN scientists, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and key negotiators from developed and developing countries from around the world on developing a collective solution to climate challenges.