By Avit Ndayiziga
“The world should not focus on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, instead counting the number of lives saved.” Said the COP27 president’s Youth Envoy, Dr. Omnia El Omrani during COY18 closing ceremonies.
“Although I had a long flight, complex check-out at Dubai airport, and a very short time for resting, I am thrilled to attend the 18th Conference of the Youth (COY18),” said Oumalkhaire Yacin Abdi an international climate change delegate from Djibouti, proudly posing with her country’s flag as she walked toward the Conference venue.
Despite the fatigue, as she did not get enough time to rest, Oumalkhaire stressed the importance of young people’s voices when climate change policy-making. “The inaction of today will cause the youth of tomorrow to suffer. That is why we must take action today to promote a sustainable future for everyone,” she emphasized.
On the other hand, with an endless smile as she stands up to take a photo with her electric wheelchair toward the conference venue, disability rights activist Aimée Blandine Bukuru backs her, describing how climate change has a devastating impact on people living with disabilities.
“I used to live in Gatumba, a western area of Bujumbura in Burundi. During a heavy downpour that resulted in a flood, my wheelchair was swept away into Lake Tanganyika. I had to escape using my crutches. Therefore, individuals like me who live with disabilities should have a voice in shaping climate change policies, as we experience the worst consequences more significantly than others,” she indicated.
As per YOUNGO, the official children and youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC), organizing the 18th Conference of Youth (COY18) is the result of volunteer efforts to empower young individuals’ voices in shaping global climate policies. YOUNGO aims to promote universal accessibility to drive change and action, as well as build a sustainable future for all.
During the COY18 Opening Ceremony, labeled as a celebration of youth leadership and a platform for delegates to jumpstart an event meant for connecting and exchanging ideas, H.E. Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE pointed out that our mother, planet Earth is sick and requires a collective effort for effective medication.
“We have got a huge challenge ahead of us, but I know with your help and your voices, we can heal our mother, planet Earth! “She highlighted.
Amy E. Pope, Director General of the IOM, emphasizes that migration should be a voluntary decision rather than a result of the destructive impacts of climate change.
“Young people have to endure challenges that are frankly not of their making, and often this can mean, leaving their world behind to start a new and uncertain life. We believe that migration should always be a choice, not a necessity.” Noted the IOM boss.
On the other hand, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres calls the youth and all other stakeholders to do the right thing and safeguard our common future.
“We demand that governments, financial institutions, and businesses around the world do the right thing and take every step to safeguard our common future. I know you will never give up, neither”.The UN official boss urged.
After the opening ceremony, the first day of COY18 was filled with enthusiastic delegates, inspiring panels, educational workshops, and much more. In addition, a Green Jobs Fair was held, offering attendees the chance to learn about and network with companies and organizations that prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility.
When the Youngo team handed over the Global Youth Statement to His Excellency Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC acknowledged that the Global Youth Statement weighs heavily.
“These demands and the whole statement carry enormous moral weight. It does so because of the tremendous amount of work that you’ve put into ensuring that it represents children and youth from all over the world. With an impressive 110 local conferences of youth and nine regional conferences, as well as 750,000 inputs from 160 countries, this statement can be heard, loud and clear as the voices of youth“, Simon Stiell mentioned in his speech at COY18.
He also reinforced the focus on solutions, stressing how it is the key to success. “Change may be challenging, but it is our collective wisdom, especially from youth, women, and indigenous communities, that will guide us toward a sustainable future.” He added.
However, he regrets that parties are not effectively implementing climate-related projects or Nationally determined contributions (NDCs)that embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“As a former minister, I understand how politicians are preoccupied with either media attention they face or the next election cycle while climate Issues cannot be solved by short-term considerations.”He concluded.
The COP27 president’s Youth Envoy, Dr. Omnia El Omrani, voiced her discontentment with the focus on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius instead counting the number of lives saved.