Youth and the Future

2 December 2011


Yesterday was Young and Future Generations Day, and among the many events that took place, one message came across loud and clear: The time for political inaction has run out.

Young people have a critical role to play in the negotiations, one that is often underutilized. As the primary stakeholders in the outcomes of this conference, youth have a right to demand more of negotiators, of the targets they are setting, and of the process. Youth are pushing for policies that not only insist upon necessary emissions reductions, but also confront the roots of inequity that exist in the current systems.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres warned youth not to pick up the bad habits of negotiators and stay ambitious in a session titled “An Intergenerational Inquiry”. In response, 16-year old Mokgadi Seemola silenced the room stating, “Because of some of the wrong decisions some negotiators have made, my dream is shattered.” Drought has devastated her South African community and now she faces the harsh realities of climate change. She had hoped to share the world she grew up in with her children, and that is now impossible. This and the many other bold statements delivered by youth provided a much needed bridge between the often impersonal act of developing text and the larger context and human face of global climate change.

The negotiators at this conference have heard the message: There is no more time.

The question that remains is: What action will they take?

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