My friends call me ‘estherclimate’ for a reason, being that I am very passionate about our environment, believing that our actions and in-actions have great impact on our planet and climate change poses even greater challenge to the world. So I was sent to attend the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that took place in Durban South Africa from Nov 25th – Dec 10. I met with amazing group of young people and I saw the great power of Youth in through many lenses…
Half of the World population is made of amazing group young people, creative, strong and committed to finding solution to the world greatest challenge; climate change. We traveled by road, sea and air to meet with our peers in Durban, South Africa for the UN climate Talks. We began our participation with a 3-day Conference of Youth (COY7) at the University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN). We held workshops on climate change policy, linking population and climate change, media and messaging, building youth climate coalitions and we dance to the tune of “Waka Waka- it time for Africa”.
We met too with heads of Govt who are constantly deciding our future without much consideration of how and what we think as the inheritor of the present unsustainable world whichever way they decide to leave it. I had the rare opportunity of delivering the Youth opening statement unbehalf of the youth and was on a panel on Healthy Women, Healthy Planet with Mary Ribonson, former President of Ireland former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and a member of “The Elders” ( a group of world leaders to contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems). It was nice to meet with Mary Robinson again, after our last meeting in 2008 in Glasgow Scotland where I had asked her a question. So it good to ask her another question again, this time on empowering young women and suggesting that gender discuss should also be an intergenerational dialogue and younger women should be empowererd for climate resilient
Much was at stake during the talks. After the excitement, expectation and ultimate failure and farce of the Copenhagen summit in December 2009, the credibility of the entire UN process was under great scrutiny. The 2010 conference in Cancún restored some faith, but as things stand there is still no legally binding international framework for cuts in carbon emissions beyond 2012. The future of the Kyoto Protocol has been a major sticking point for years – and at these talks. The final outcomes are a Green Climate Fund being instated, the Kyoto Protocol having a second commitment period and there being a road-map to a new legal binding treaty from 2015.
This year marked a great year for the Youth climate movement as we were boosted with a permanent observer seat at the UNFCCC under the YOUNGO (Youth NGOs). As the generation that will take over the climate which ever way the govt decides to leave it, young people like us will be spending the next 40 years of their lives de-carbonising the environment. Inside the ICC, we asked that Durban shouldn’t be a burying ground for Kyoto protocol, govt should show the leadership that they are entrusted with, support Africa and other countries adapt and access the Green Climate Fund. We asked them to “Get it done”
“”What has been the most important and exciting news from the conference has been the active involvement of youth – There is a story of hope from Durban—it’s the story of the youth and their allies who refused to remain silent, and who will stand up everyday and everywhere and show the bravery we saw in South Africa. That’s how we’ll win this fight–and that’s the progress we’re most proud of.” ~ 350.org
African Youth were not left out. We held workshops, social media advocacy and we traveled from Nairobi to Durban by road holding road shows through the African Youth Justice caravan, collecting petitions and creating a great wave of awareness globally on the fate of Africans struggling in face of devastating climate impacts and yet they shouted “We have faith”. but how long can this faith last? I came back to Washington with a back pack full of knowledge and inspiration, with a faith stronger than before that the current world youth have a stronger plateform and they are indeed the change that the world so need, Let the #GlobalSpring begin!