This event focused on the role of young people and their call for action on climate change, discussing the role of power structures, decision-making processes, and intergenerational dialogues for bolder collective action.
Organized by: the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and Fridays for Future Sweden
This event focused on the role of young people and their call for action on climate change, discussing the role of power structures, decision-making processes, and intergenerational dialogues for bolder collective action. The session offered the opportunity for an interactive dialogue across generations, involving youth and representatives of the pubic and private sectors, and academia.
Key messages from the event included the need to:
- safeguard children's rights as stipulated by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- ensure full youth participation in environmental processes, including relevant decision making;
- build a platform for sharing youth-led ideas and solutions on environmental challenges; and
- attract earmarked funding for meaningful youth engagement.
Co-moderator Pernilla Baralt, Director General, UNICEF Sweden, highlighted that we face a crisis on children rights, including an educational crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She drew attention to UNICEF’s Report Card 17 and its content on climate change impacts on children and related challenges, stressing that more than half of the 2.2 billion children worldwide are highly vulnerable to climate-related risks. She said basic children’s rights include the right to comprehensible information and participation in decision making.
Co-moderator Thomas Davin, Director, UNICEF Global Office for Innovation, emphasized that the interactive discussions are the start of new connections, ideas, and solutions. He drew attention to the effort to connect youth representatives with decision makers and share ideas in a country-specific context.
Participants engaged in roundtable discussions, allowing for an intergenerational exchange of ideas.
Reporting back, Ebba Ganslandt, Fridays for Future Sweden, highlighted inspiring projects from around the world that have realized on-the-ground transformation. Eleonora Gatti, Innovation Portfolio Manager, UNICEF Office of Innovation, noted the importance of “safeguarding the youth spirit on the way forward.”
A roundtable discussion, led by Dhreen Abdullah, Fridays for Future Balochistan, and Stefan Swartling Peterson, Professor, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, then convened. Abdullah highlighted the need to: “keep politicians, policymakers, and company holders accountable”; actively involve youth in policymaking, going beyond mere rhetoric; and replace fossil fuel and other unsustainable big companies’ representatives with youth representatives in the decision-making processes.
Stressing the need to involve youth in decision making, Sofía Vergara, Fridays for Future Argentina, pointed to language barriers for youth engagement and the need to raise further awareness on environmental issues, including climate change. Christian Landgren, CEO and Founder, Iteam Solutions Aktiebolag, pointed to many good ideas and solutions tabled, announcing an initiative to build a relevant platform to share potential solutions on environmental challenges.
Another roundtable discussion was led by Buy My Nhat, Upshift Viet Nam, and Emelie Öhlander, Climate Change Action Program Manager, Ericsson. Öhlander underscored that climate and environmental action “need to be moved from a grassroots perspective,” and offered examples from around the world on the need to scale up technological and non-technological solutions.
A final roundtable discussion was co-moderated by Eric Njuguna, Fridays for Future Kenya, and Golala Ruhani, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Njuguna highlighted: deforestation and the challenge to make relevant data accessible, including by the European Space Agency; challenges that Indigenous Peoples face and their critical role as biodiversity stewards; environmental activism; and funding accessibility for youth organizations.
Cristina Baeza | [email protected]
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