The Speaker
Wednesday, 24 July 2024 – 23:01

COP27 passed on the baton of youth activism

COP27 was the conference of youth. Without Greta Thunberg in attendance on the Egyptian coast at Sharm-el-Sheik, dozens of other youth climate activists stepped out of her shadow to make their voices heard on the biggest possible stage.

Most notable was Sophia Kianni, who received support and backlash in equal measure over her appointment as the UN’s youngest advisor. The Stanford student will advise the United Nations on the impact of climate change on young people, giving a voice to her generation on the most important stage.

However, she wasn’t the only youth activist in attendance, with one 11 year old campaigner, Licypriya Kangujam, conforming UK climate minister Zac Goldsmith on the conference floor.

She raised the issue of Just Stop Oil protesters being arrested in the UK, as well as journalists who were covering the protests. Her video of the event prompted a barge of negative responses, before Goldsmith responded calling on tweeters to leave her alone. Kangujam responded by once again calling on Zac Goldsmith to intervene and prevent the arrests – although this is not something within his power as a minister within the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs.

The emergence of these other youth activists comes as Great Thunberg decided not to travel to COP, calling it a conference of ‘greenwashing’.

Many young activists in attendance had the opportunity to address the conference, including Sophia Kianni who raised awareness of the impact of fast fashion, as well as pollution’s impact on foetuses.

On the conference floor, one stand is dedicated to young people, called the Children and Youh pavillion. This year, it has been attracting significant attention due to the large numbers of prominent youth activity attending.

And their presence has resulted in action too. YOUNGO, the official youth constituency of the UNFCCC secured official recognition as stakeholders in implementing climate policies. This victory means that young people will have an increasing say on the future of UN climate policy, shaping the direction of policy for which they are most likely to be impacted.

The other striking thing, is that many of these activists come from nations on the front line of dealing with climate change. Licypriya Kangujam is from India, and has a reputation for raising issues around plastic pollution.

Whilst other activists such as Ayisha Siddiqa and Mana Omar are from Pakistan and Kenya respectively.

Their presence at COP27 will undoubtedly have a profound impact on climate policy and ensure that young people will have a role at the forefront of shaping the global approach to climate change.

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