Youth Can Make a Difference

Girl Guide Member and University of Saskatchewan student Megan Van Buskirk, recently attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) 17 in Durban, South Africa. Today’s blog highlights Megan’s original post, about the importance of youth attendance at international conferences and events.
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In Durban, I worked on the topic of capacity building as the leader of the WAGGGS Capacity Building Working Group, and as a member of the Youth Non-Governmental Organisations (YOUNGO) Working Group on Capacity Building. We spent the entire two weeks during COP writing and rewriting youth policy briefs about capacity building to reflect what was happening in the negotiations. We pushed for the inclusion of age- and gender-sensitive approaches, as well as the recognition of NFE as an essential tool. I personally met with Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s lead negotiator on climate change, and Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister, to discuss these issues.

While Canada’s government was quite receptive to the youth policy briefs, they did not speak up in the negotiations, when it mattered most. Our government also backed out of the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding agreement that we have. This regression was disappointing. However, as a result of our lobbying efforts, gender and youth were acknowledged as key stakeholders in climate change policy, with a reaffirmation of importance in the capacity building text of the Durban agreements.

This seems like a small step, but it is actually a huge leap for YOUNGO and WAGGGS. Now that youth and age-sensitive approaches have been adopted by the UNFCCC, the next step is for our governments to acknowledge us as capacity building experts and give us a larger role in the decision-making process. At the next COP later this year, I know the youth will be even more influential!

Megan being interviewed by reporterReposted from original post “My Experiences at COP17 in Durban, South Africa”, by Megan Van Buskirk.

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