This is a dedicated article on the topic of Youth-Led Climate Action. This article is a part of the #Youth4ClimateLive Educational Toolkit.
For years, young people have been crucial in focusing global attention on the urgent need to act on climate. Global youth climate movements have been a wake-up call for leaders, proving that young people can no longer be dismissed when it comes to paving the way forward. The way we engage young people today will determine the prospects for sustainable development and peace. Young people, who represent a majority of the population in most developing countries, are today visibly contributing as political actors, innovators, entrepreneurs and peace-builders. At the same time, youth face disproportionate social, economic and political barriers, which prevent them from unleashing their full potential. Utilizing young people’s potential as agents of change requires involving and empowering them in the development of policy and supporting their participation at all levels.
Throughout the #Youth4ClimateLive series, we heard from inspiring youth leaders who are calling for ambitious action from their leaders and implementing climate solutions on the ground in their communities. In Episode 3: Driving Youth Action, we dived into how decision makers can meaningfully engage with young people in developing climate policies and implementing sustainable solutions. Some of the Episode’s guests serve as advisors through official channels in multilateral institutions, such as the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and YOUNGO. While space has been made to include these important youth voices within high-level processes, many of these leaders got their start by driving action in their own communities at the grassroots level.
From Severn Suzuki’s famous speech at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to Greta Thunberg’s powerful words at the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019, youth have been calling on leaders to take urgent and ambitious climate action for many years. Young filmmaker Slater Jewell-Kemker documented this rise of the global youth climate movement in her film Youth Unstoppable, which offers a personal and first-hand look at the stories of youth on the front lines of climate change refusing to let their futures slip away.
Beyond being a consistent voice for action, young people are also an integral part of the international climate policy discussion. In 2009, the UNFCCC recognized youth groups as an official constituency called “YOUNGO” (Youth + NGO) and after two years operating under a provisional status, YOUNGO became fully recognized at COP17 in Durban, South Africa. YOUNGO has since served as both the official conduit for youth participation in the UN climate talks and as a global network of youth and youth-focused organizations working on climate change. Currently, YOUNGO has a member base of 200 youth-non-governmental organisations and 5500+ individuals from across the globe.
If you’re a young person reading this and wondering how you can become a youth climate champion, there are lots of ways to get involved! Use the resources below to learn more about the global youth climate movement at both the local and global levels, then take a look at the ACT section of the #Youth4ClimateLive Educational Toolkit to explore ways you can get involved.
Learn More: How are young people driving climate action?
Get Your Feet Wet
Watch: At COP25, Jayathma Wickramanakyake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, sits down for a live interview with C4C on the gains of the #Youth4Climate movement and how policymakers can support young people moving forward.
Explore: The Mock COP26 (Nov 19- Dec 1, 2020) is a youth-led online conference that will show the world what would happen if young people were the decision makers.
Watch: Hear what Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, had to say on International Youth Day 2020.
Explore: Join the Connect4Climate #YouthTakeover movement!
Explore: Be a Climate Action Superhero!
Watch: Youthtopia founder Melati Wijsen offers advice on How to Be an Activist from Home
Watch: Be inspired by stories of action from #Youth4Climate across Africa:
Kaluki Paul started Green Treasures Farm in Kenya
Bethelhem Dejene is the CEO of Zafree Papers in Addis Ababa
Adolphe is passionate about protecting the environment in Goma
Helina Teklu is the CEO of Seed Bomb Ethiopia
Docile is turning plastic into handbags in the DRC
Yared Abera aspires to be one of the top climate negotiators in Ethiopia
Explore: Trillion Tree Campaign - This is an exciting way that young people can act locally with global impact by getting involved in a tree planting project in their own communities.
Take: From Climate Science to Action, a World Bank Group course designed to help young people turn their knowledge into concrete climate action.
Read: Young people can get involved in their local Conference of Youth. For more information, see: YOUNGO Local Conference Of Youth (COY) Policy.
Refer to: the UN Foundation's #SayItWithScience toolkit for ideas on how to galvanize climate action on social media.
Join the #Youth4Climate community
Learn more about #Youth4ClimateLive youth guests:
Ahmed Badr (USA), Author, While the Earth Sleeps We Travel and Founder, Narratio
Watch: The Voices for the Future immersive multimedia installation featuring the voices of Ahmed Badr, Greta Thunberg, and other youth climate activists was projected on the UN Building in New York City in 2019.
Archana Soreng (India), Member, UN Secretary General's Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and Research Officer, Vasundhara Odisha
Read: Archana Soreng tells us how traditional indigenous practices can save our planet.
Axell Sutton (Mexico), Co-Chairman, Latin American Student Energy Summit 2021
Dr. Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers (Canada), Junior Doctor and Board Member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
Read: Carbon-neutral medical conferences should be the norm by Dr. Pétrin-Desrosiers
Read: Dr. Pétrin-Desrosiers’ article The Climate/Health Nexus at COP21 & Beyond in World Medical Journal.
Claudia Taboada (Dominican Republic), Founder, EducAcción
Read this short biography of Claudia Taboada
Elizabeth Wathuti (Kenya), Environmentalist and Climate Activist
Ernest Gibson (Fiji), Member, UN Secretary-General's Youth Advisory Group and Pacific Regional Youth Coordinator, CSO Partnership for Development
Fatou Jeng (Gambia), Founder of Clean Earth Gambia & Trillion Trees Campaigner for Plant-for-the-Planet
Watch: Fatou as a panelist on LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND: HARNESSING THIS MOMENT AS A TURNING POINT – STORIES FROM THE FRONTLINE
Watch: Fatou talk about the role of governments and civil society Climate Action Studio SB48: Fatou Jeng final, Plant for the Planet initiative, Gambia
Heeta Lakhani (India), Director, UmeUs United Pvt. Ltd., YOUNGO Focal Point
Watch: Heeta’s interview at the Conference of Youth (COY) for COP24.
Jhannel Tomlinson (Jamaica), Caribbean Climate Activist and Ph.D. candidate
Louise Mabulo (Philippines), Chef, Farmer, Entrepreneur & Founder of The Cacao Project
Watch: Young Champion of the Earth 2019: Louise Mabulo by UN Environment Programme
Malaika Vaz (India), National Geographic Explorer, TV Presenter, Wildlife Filmmaker
Marie-Claire Graf (Switzerland), Co-Focal Point of YOUNGO & Co-Founder of Sustainability Week International
Read: Marie-Claire’s thoughts on the climate emergency and possible solutions "Food systems are the number one solution to reverse the climate crisis."
Read: This article comparing Marie-Claire to Swedish activist Greta Thunberg Switzerland’s Greta is called Marie-Claire
Rachele Rizzo (Italy), Youth Section Coordinator & UNFCCC Contact Point, Italian Climate Network
Read: Rachele’s writing on the Italian Climate Network website (in Italian).
Salina Abraham (USA), Harvard University student, Global Landscape Forum Advisor, Former President of the International Forestry Students Association
Watch: Salina Abraham Closing Keynote: The way forward GLF 2015 remarks at the Global Landscape Forum
Seble Samuel (Ethiopia), Co-Founder, Menged Le Sew
Read: Seble’s piece on the struggle to halt food waste during the pandemic.
Watch: Seble at the 'Our Changing Planet', a conversation across generations.
Selina Neirok Leem (Marshall Islands), Climate Warrior from the Marshall Islands
Read: This interview with Selina in celebration of International Women's Day.
Watch: This moving short film about Selina’s vulnerable community in the Marshall Islands.
Seyifunmi Adebote (Nigeria), Environmentalist, Host, Climate Talk Podcast
Listen: To Seyifunmi host the Climate Talk Podcast
Sophia Kianni (USA, Iran), Founder & Executive Director of Climate Cardinals & Member of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change
Vanessa Nakate (Uganda), Climate Activist and Founder, Rise Up Climate Movement