A report by Laurent Duvillier for Unicef.
Around 70 young people kicked off a new regional climate challenge – 1,000 actions for change – today in the presence of the Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr. The challenge seeks to map out more than a thousand youth-led grassroot solutions for climate change throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
The regional youth engagement initiative aims to empower, connect and mobilize adolescents and young people in the Americas and the Caribbean and is coordinated by CONCAUSA, a joint program between the NGO América Solidaria, UNICEF and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The 1,000 actions for change regional challenge was launched during the Local Conference of Youth (LCOY) of PreCOP 25, which precedes the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25), to be held in Chile in December 2019.
“We want to show what we, the youth of the continent, have to say about this crisis, and above all that we are acting and that our contribution is substantive,” said Catalina Silva, an 18-year-old Chilean young climate activist who is already acting for solutions as one of the three regional Youth Ambassadors of CONCAUSA.
Together with about 70 other young people from Costa Rica and other countries attending the LCOY, Catalina contributed to draft a youth declaration with key recommendations for #ClimateAction that will be presented to government officials and other stakeholders during the pre-COP 25 opening plenary event in Costa Rica.
“Climate change is not an opinion”, said Epsy Campbell Barr, Vice President of Costa Rica. “It is factual data, scientifically proven. Each rising degree subtracts from our possibilities of permanence and survival on this planet, it increases poverty, inequity, migration, and sickness. Costa Rica is committed to create a wider platform for these solutions designed by youth to be amplified. We call upon other governments to join us. It is our responsibility to support their efforts, because they are the shining generation.”
During the closure of the LCOY, the Vice President took note of the demands expressed by youth and stressed the vital role that governments must play to scale up solution-oriented and youth-driven climate actions.
Costa Rica is widely acknowledged as one of the leading countries in the global efforts against climate change and was recognized in September this year as “Champion of the Earth” by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Latin America and the Caribbean remains one of the regions most affected by climate change.
Based on EM-DAT Emergency Events Database, UNICEF estimates that over 63 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean have been affected by an extreme weather event or climate related disaster over the past 30 years. On average about 2.1 million Latin American and Caribbean children are affected every year.
“We all have seen and heard teen climate activists marching in the streets, but have we recognized the solutions they are crafting on the ground to prevent climate change?” asked UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Bernt Aasen. “A green generation of youth is leading climate action because we, adults, have decided to ignore them for too long. Thirty years after the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, there is no better pledge for Governments in the region than building a greener and healthier planet for children today and tomorrow.”
On the road to the next global climate conference, COP25, UNICEF, which already supports mitigation and adaptation policies for climate change, urges governments and decision-makers from Latin America and Caribbean to accelerate commitments and support youth-led solutions through the following calls to action on climate change:
- Climate policies must provide for urgent and ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures, aligned with the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and commitments to enhance climate resilience and reduce vulnerability.
- Children, adolescents and young people must be considered a priority in climate policies at all levels, recognising their specific needs, vulnerabilities, rights and leadership. In particular, the most marginalised and vulnerable children should be prioritised.
- Countries now have a critical opportunity to consider the rights of children and young people in their revised Nationally Determined Contributions, National Adaptation Plans, and in their long-term low emissions development strategies.
- Climate policy-making must be informed by, and commit to, consultation of children, adolescents and young people at all stages, including planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
- Mitigation and adaptation policies should identify priorities and sector-based interventions that are most material to children’s needs and rights, delivering maximum impact and social co-benefits for children.