COP26 Day 5 – Youth and Public Empowerment
As we near the end of the first week at COP26, global leaders will today turn their attention to youth and public empowerment.
The UK COP26 Presidency, in collaboration with YOUNGO (the Children and Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC) and other young partners, will elevate youth voices and ensure a platform for young climate experts to engage with decision makers on their pressing priorities.
Events throughout the day will demonstrate the critical role of empowering, educating and training the public in driving climate action to keep 1.5oC alive.
In the headline event, Unifying for Change, YOUNGO will present the global youth statement from their Local, Virtual and Global Conferences of youth. It will showcase the global youth position, their climate actions and their calls for action from global leaders at COP26. The global youth statement has gained over 40,000 signatures with young people demanding global leaders take action on their key policy demands, including Sustainable Cities and Communities, Climate Justice and Human Rights and Sustainable Consumption. You can read the Global Youth Statement here.
At NEECCo, public engagement is a key factor for us in achieving our aim of Becoming England’s Greenest Region. We acknowledge the need for a collaborative approach not only from businesses and public bodies, the VCSE sector and governments but also from individuals.
The climate crisis can seem like an impossible issue to take action on, particularly as an individual and climate anxiety is a real issue to be addressed particularly with young people facing a future which they might currently feel they have no control over. But the overriding message we see throughout public engagement is that youths around the world are ready for change – they just need to see political leaders at COP26 deliver it.
To engage in the climate conversation with young people, earlier this week NEECCo held our own virtual youth summit in collaboration with Groundworks, Northumberland County Council Youth Cabinet, Linx Project and Projects4Change. With an introduction from Anna Taylor, Newcastle University Student and Climate Activist, the young people discussed aspects of the climate emergency including meat production, fast fashion, transport and energy consumption.
Polls within the summit showed that the majority of young people felt energy use and deforestation are the main cause of climate change, they all agreed that impacts of climate change were present in the North East and that everyone on a global scale needs to work together to tackle the issue.
At the end of the summit, young people agreed to take climate action today by pledging to do one thing differently. You can see their pledges on our social media throughout the day.
Across the North East, hundreds of primary school children have been collaborating with Cap-a-Pie theatre company and Newcastle University School of Engineering to create a new show about climate change, made by children, for grown ups, which is being screened at COP26 on 12th November and can be watched on YouTube now. Climate Change Catastrophe! offers inspiring perspectives on climate change and is performed by actors for an audience of all ages. You can read more in our case study here.
Elsewhere, Groundwork have signed their social media accounts over to their youth group who will be documenting their actions to tackle climate change and giving their opinions on the crisis throughout the day. Actions will include going meat free and doing a beach litter clean up.
And Low Carbon Homes are commercial partners of the Build Better Now virtual exhibition and event series within the COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavillion. You can sign up and watch their session, ‘Empowering young people to become the climate-aware built environment professionals of the future: what do we need to do now?’ on-demand here.
So, how can you get involved? There are a number of ways you can pledge your support and show that even individual, small steps can make a difference towards tackling climate change. Joining in the conversation and inspiring others to do the same is all beneficial, but we can all do more.
You can read COY16 Global Youth Statement and give your support here.
You can sign a wind turbine! SSE Renewables is calling for the public and world leaders alike to sign one of the giant Dogger Bank wind turbines to demand ambitious climate action to be agreed at COP26. Find out more here.
And, you can join NEECCo as an individual supporter here www.neecco.org.uk/join-us