Dear Leaders of the Global North,
Whilst the official start of the 27th international climate conference is on Monday, the frank and solution-orientated climate negotiations kicked off on November 2 with the International Conference of Youth (COY).
Free from political constraints and courtesies to fossil and other lobbyist group interests, we, the global youth unites and discusses what is really at stake: Massive ecosystem destruction and thus the loss of livelihoods of billions of people.
The staggering findings of the latest IPCC report alarm that 3.6 billion people worldwide are acutely threatened by the climate crisis. For many, common instruments of international climate policy such as climate change adaptation and mitigation measures have not been sufficient as secure livelihoods worldwide have been and are being destroyed irreversibly by human-induced climate change.
Although this has been a reality for decades, so far international climate conferences have failed in raising adequate means for climate finance nor addressing ‘loss and damage’. Whereas high income countries are able to rebuild fast after climate catastrophes, extreme-weather events in low-income countries like recently devastatingly proven in Pakistan can lead to humanitarian crisis yet. Pakistan contributed only 0.7 % to historic global greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, it is a matter of justice. Still, industrial nations lack constructive contributions which actually correspond to the impact-dimensions of the climate emergency and even continue to subsidize fossil fuels heavily.
At COY we do not shy away from addressing climate justice, because we are well aware that the climate crisis does not know country borders. As we are not invited to the negotiation table and do not have a say in final decisions, here are our demands and expectations for COP27:
Ilyess El Kortbi, Ukraine:
Instead of proposing to "put aside" the war in Ukraine, I wish COP27 Leaders to face facts!
The Youth-led Climate Movement (Fridays For Future) is now attending the 4th UN Climate Change Conference since COP24 Katowice, endlessly demanding urgent Climate Action for a Safer Future for the younger generations. In this year 2022, a war has shocked Europe, and to my home country Ukraine. It is no secret: our dependence on fossil fuels is leading the world into war, and a rich people’s war has no sense!
I had to survive and become a refugee, and this COP is also a matter of survival to me.
I demand that the war in Ukraine be recognized as a Climate War!
I wish the Leaders at this COP to face this reality and Act Now!
Because tomorrow is already too late.
Joy Reyes, Philippines:
Climate change will affect everyone, but will affect everyone disproportionately. Already, facing the harshest impacts of the climate crisis are those who live in the margins, made more vulnerable each passing day, inc. indigenous peoples, women, and the youth. These sectors on the ground will continue to face losses and damages unless our governments agree, with neither compromise nor delay, on the creation of a loss and damage financing facility: that is additional to existing funding on adaptation and mitigation, that is not loan-based, and that is equitable, accessible, and just.
Now, as ever, the youth look at world leaders, especially those from the Global North, demanding that action is done today.
Joshua Omonuk, Uganda:
Ever since the signing of the Paris agreement, US$ 4.6T have been invested in the fossil fuel industry and yet the announced hundred billion dollars yearly of International Climate low Finance from industrialized countries are still just a promise.
At COP 27 I am hoping for a legally binding decision on climate finance, a strong stand on loss and damage facility because these are very important for adaptation of my community: We have had a drought in which over 600 people died. It was a climate change induced drought which resulted in a food crisis - the Karamoja food crisis. Another community, Kasese was heavily hit by floods and Mbale by land-slides. The destruction of property and lives was beyond imagination and it was devastating to witness that the government does not have capacity to help such communities recover from these losses and damages, not even to strengthen their resilience. I will participate in COP27 with only glimmering hope since in the past, promises have been broken.
Serena Mendizabal, Haudenosaunee Cayuga Nation (So-Called Canada):
Canada emphasizes a 'just transition,’ without consulting Indigenous communities most impacted by environmental dispossession and climate change. Indigenous peoples are facing the brunt of loss and damages, while Canada implements false solutions in pursuit of their economy. Canada continues to disregard Indigenous rights, and severely attacks those protecting our homes on the frontlines with police violence and laws of intimidation. As Indigenous people protect our lands and waters, they are protecting our cultures, governance, and languages. The loss and damage we face in the climate crisis is the loss and damage of our distinct identities, and the places we come from as the original peoples. We will not meet our targets without recognizing the role Indigenous sovereignty plays in creating a just climate future for all.
Karen Huere, Joven indigena amazonica del Peru:
The destruction of Mother Nature has caused and continues to aggravate the climate crisis. We, as young indigenous women have learned from the ancestral wisdom of our elders, that it is necessary to treat the Ina Ktipatsi (Mother Earth) as a living being and thus to recognize her as a legal entity with proper rights to be protected. Our existence in indigenous territory gives us the responsibility to defend Mother Earth from all forms of colonialist power-plays and extractivism that reduce her to a material resource. Our role is to follow the legacy of indigenous women to defend all forms of life, not only human, as we understand that our own livelihood depends on it. Hence, we demand to stop polluting our rivers, exploiting our mountains, and cutting down our forests for the purpose of economic interest. These are no economic resources, they represent the sacred places of our worldview.
Saher Rashid Baig, Karachi Pakistan:
According to the UNEP there is currently an adaptation gap of 70 billion. The current funding does not even get us half way through addressing the inequalities let alone building resilience in the vulnerable and marginalized communities.
The world leaders are evidently less interested in investing more for the future of children, youth and the future generations. Nonetheless, it only inspires the children and youth to take concrete robust actions to include their rights in the decision making tables. One of the great examples of this coordinated advocacy is the Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action which calls for the first ever COP decision for the children and youth in the 30 years of history of the UNFCCC.
Climate justice is a matter of political will. And the youth of the world are coming together, from those on the streets to those at the negotiating tables, they are amplifying the momentum to make the world realize that we are dealing with a major existential crisis and the time to act is now!
Mana Omar, Kenya:
If COP27 is already known as 'African COP' it should also be reflective of its name and actually take the needs of the African people into consideration. At COP 27 politicians finally need to deliver, rather than announcing pledge after pledge! We cannot feed on pledges, we need real action! There have been 4 consecutive failed rains in the horn of Africa, in countries that mainly rely on agriculture for subsistence. That makes them extremely vulnerable to the changing climate. My community, which is a pastoral community in Kenya, depends on livestock keeping as their main economic activity. Due to human-induced climate change, we no longer have the livestock we once had. We became poor and my community faces many social problems. The extent of loss and damage needs no further explanation, we deserve reparations!
Daniel Holanda, Brazil:
I am part of Fridays for Future and MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas) movement, I'll be going to COP27.
I hope that this COP, political and business leaders, will prioritize the voice of MAPA's youth and indigenous leaders.
My dream is to see young people from 20 to 29 years old occupying space and chairs in decision-making, who are really included in the process and not just a photo talking about supporting youth.
I also hope that countries present more ambitious targets in the NDC and get out of their comfort zone. We are the last generation that can save the planet, we need to deal with the climate crisis with the seriousness that it is, we cannot make plans for 2030 or 2050, we need actions for now so that we can have a future and our lives saved.
Ousainu Colley, Gambia:
As a youth from the Sahel region of Africa, I am compelled to witness the effects of climate change on the livelihoods and socioeconomic development of my people. Many farmers have lost their farmlands. Every year harvest yields get lower due to the erosion and infertility of the soil, taking away the basis of income and livelihoods. Women, who were once known for rice cultivation have lost all their economic activity because of the intrusion of salt water into their fresh water rice fields. The natural forest stock vanishes causing heavy winds and storms to destroy homes and the loss of wildlife.
The loss and damage my region experiences today are the result of GHG emissions that have been emitted extensively by the Global North. As a climate activist and representative of my people I demand for COP27 to deliver on adequate climate finance, compensation for loss and damage, and a strong Global Goal on Adaptation, including the restoration of the lost ecosystem, and the deployment of sustainable energy.
Ramy George Yacoub, Egypt:
Perhaps it’s about time?
Soon, all countries will experience significant losses and damages due to climate change; not only the most vulnerable nations or the poorest economies.
Our future is at stake and 3.6 billion people are already affected today!
We ask world leaders to see the bigger picture; we can’t afford to leave anyone behind and the Global North will suffer too by the low resilience of the Global South.
We urge leaders of the Global North to lead by mobilizing climate finance focusing not only on mitigation but also on adaptation as well as loss and damage.
The establishment of an official finance facility for loss and damage is critical at the moment, for the sake of all of us.
Leaders of the Global North, it is on you to demonstrate that climate justice is not just an empty promise. We demand a signal which strengthens the global trust in international cooperation. It has been long overdue to put the preservation of our all livelihoods at the center of collective action - instead of unilateral deviations. This is a matter of political will.
We urge you to step up to your legacy and acknowledge your historic responsibility.
Our future is at stake. Civilisation as we know it is at stake. The climate crisis is a question of life and death. Our future depends on your actions. We expect that you consider this in your decisions. Recognise the seriousness of the situation. Act accordingly. And become part of the solution. Our generation and all future generations will measure you by this.
We will not forget about you. Do not dare to forget about us.
- Ilyess El Kortbi, Ukraine
- Joshua Omonuk, Uganda
- Joy Reyes, Philippines
- Serena Mendizabal, Haudenosaunee Cayuga Nation
- Ousainu Colley, Gambia
- Saher Rashid Baig, Karachi Pakistan
- Ramy George Yacoub, Egypt
- Karen Huere, Joven indigena amazonica del Peru
- Daniel Holanda, Brasil
- Mana Omar, Kenya
- Austrian UNFCCC Youth Delegates by CliMates Austria
Sharm El-Sheikh, 4th of November 2022
Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.
The Austrian Youth Delegation is made up of the youth climate delegates to COP27 and the Conference of Youth (COY) 2022.
Joshua Omonuk is a climate activist and climate activism consultant. He focuses on training climate justice leaders in different African countries. He is also an economist and statistician
Serena Mendizabal is a passionate youth community-based researcher & community organizer driven by Indigenous governance, impact/ environment/ health assessment and just clean energy futures. She is engaged in multiple organizations in her day to day, including the Lawson Foundation.
Karen Huere is an indigenous climate activist from Peru who focuses her activities on the land's rights and the care that Indigenous people have provided and continue to provide the Earth as opposed to the colonial tradition of envisioning the earth.
Saher Rashid Baig is a youth advocate for climate, ocean and gender. She is also an SDG facilitator and Growth enthusiast with experience in UN-live Markmaker.
Mana Omar is a climate scientist by profession, a climate justice/gender advocate for the indigenous pastoralist communities of Kenya and the Founder and CEO of Spring of the arid and semi-arid lands (SASAL). Mana is also a youth leader with the UN Women Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition . Mana also holds a Bachelor's degree in Meteorology from the University of Nairobi.
Ousainu Colley is a youth representative for Gambia at the International Conference of Youth (COY). He is also the winner of the Stone Circle’s Youth Excellence Award thanks to his repeated and constant efforts as an environmentalist.
Ramy George Yacoub is a committed Egyptian young professional in the Sustainable Development field working towards achieving the 17 SDGs with an interest in climate action, energy, entrepreneurship and innovation, environmental advocacy and youth inclusion. Currently he is mainly engaged as a Youth Adviser for UNIDO.