Throughout the fourth day, the Youth Environment Assembly focused its attention on making youth voices heard in speaking with high-level delegates and coordinating with other youth groups.
To leaders, youth relayed the main messages of the Youth Environment Assembly. They envisioned the future of environmental governance that included diverse communities, including women, indigenous peoples, and youth from rural areas, who are often unable to attend multilateral conferences. They called for a UN Environment Assembly resolution on youth engagement when UNEA-5 resumes in 2022 and highlighted their report “The UNEP We Want.” Youth reported the launch of the Chemicals and Wastes Youth Platform and the Science-Policy-Business Forum and Youth Platform.
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen and UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) President Sveinung Rotevatn supported youth engagement that goes beyond tokenism, or “youthwashing.” Both leaders urged young people to hold governments and the UN system to account. Andersen highlighted UNEP's recent report “Making Peace With Nature” and called for youth to engage and continue to push for greater action on climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises.
Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), highlighted that addressing environmental crises requires a transformative societal agenda. He spoke of different layers of youth activism, from local action to push governments for reforms, to global action engaged in UN processes to press for international ambition. He thanked participants for raising the issue of youth advocates’ oppression in some countries.
Participants rounded out the day with a wide-ranging consultation on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, a platform for young people to contribute to the High-level Political Forum and its review of the Sustainable Development Goals. Youth focused on SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 13 (climate action), and provided input on the process and organization of the Youth Forum to ensure its inclusivity and effectiveness.