Two Caribbean youth delegates to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties are advocating for increased youth involvement in climate change planning.
Participating in the United Nations Development Programme’s Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (UNDP J-CCCP) side event, hosted in the UNDP Pavilion, eighteen-year-old Michael Morgan of Jamaica indicated his readiness to take action. He noted, “Youth will be the ones inheriting the effects of climate change in coming years so, it’s essential that we understand what is being done and are involved in plans made.”
Ashfred Norris of Dominica was of a similar persuasion, echoing his prime minister’s sentiments that Dominica is now on the frontline of climate change. During his country report, Ashfred, who is also a student of the Dominica State College, cited statistics which highlight how Hurricane Maria has impacted social structures including education and health. He maintained that, “Youth voices are important but it’s just the first step. When we look at the ladder of youth participation, we see that the lowest levels are manipulation and tokenism. These are where youth seem to have a role but it’s mostly ceremonial or for show. The highest level is youth-initiated decisions and this is what we want to attain.”
Both youth delegates represented their countries at the recently concluded Youth Climate Change Conference (YCCC) in Jamaica and thereafter travelled to Bonn, Germany as participants in the Conference of Youth (COY 13) and UNFCCC’s COP23, supported by the J-CCCP. During COY 13, the pair were members of a working group which produced an output document and worked diligently to ensure that the Caribbean and the Youth Statement on Climate Change issued at the end of YCCC featured in the document.
J-CCCP is a regional initiative working in eight Caribbean countries in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports, setting the region on a low-emission development path, as well as improve the region’s ability to respond to climate risks and opportunities in the long run, through resilient development approaches that go beyond disaster response to extreme events.