Urban Youth have to be recognized in any sustainable climate agreement

Good partnerships are worth their weight in gold – and in that sense UN-Habitat´s Youth Unit is a millionaire. For COP21, UN-Habitat has partnered up with two brilliant youth-led partners; the YMCA and the Climate Tracker Initiative. The YMCA is organizing Camp Climate © and UN-Habitat´s Youth Unit is proud to partner with one of the largest youth organizations in the world with more than 58 millions members globally and programs on the ground in more than 118 countries around the world. During COP21, YMCA has been a home away from home for close to 400 youth activists from 43 different countries. There they have been trained on both the issues at stake in the negotiations as well trained on how to influence policy makers and the decision-makers present in Paris. For more information on the work YMCA is doing in Paris, going here would be a good starting point!

So inspired by @unhabitatyouth and @KFUKKFUMGlobal. You are thoughtful and smart, and you will change the world! pic.twitter.com/syMpZFzkQb

Climate Trackers are a ever growing group of young communicators who blog, sketch, design and create communication materials on what is happening at COP. Currently they’ve done upward of 400 articles globally. If you are interested, you can follow some of them on twitter   .

There is no lack of young people participating at the 21st Conference of Parties of the UN´s Framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC) – popularly known as the COP21 taking place these two weeks in Paris, France. Yet, walking around in the Climate Generation Areas of the COP21 venue seeing all the engaged young people, it is hard not to ask the question whether or not the perspectives of urban youth really impacts the governments negotiating their future. It is the youth in cities who´s going to inherit the planet and sort out the mess left behind by today´s decision-makers.

One thing is clear: cities and local governments hold the key to a sustainable future, and the people who´s going to implement it are the youth. It is hard to see these two stakeholder groups around the table where the agreement is drafted.

To put things in perspective[1]; every second, the total population of world cities grows by two people. Every year, about 6 million people join the other 828 million already living in slums. More than 3 million people in cities die each year of air pollution – that is more than HIV/Aids, malaria and flu combined. And if nothing is done, half of the homes in 21 US cities will be under water by 2100.

Youth and Climate Change

Luckily for this planet, the youth community is not going to sit quietly and idle watching this go by. UN-Habitat is millionaires in two ways – first, we have the coolest mandate of all the UN agencies and secondly, we have the best partners. As the UN agency for sustainable cities and urbanization, we partner with local authorities and cities all over the world enabling them to be safe, inclusive, resilient for all urban citizens. At the same time, we know that in developing countries as much as 50% of the urban population is below the age of 30. That is why youth and youth-led organizations are part of the “gold” we are saving up on. To imagine a sustainable urbanization and a sustainable future without true and meaningful participation of youth-led organizations is, in lack of better words in the middle of December, to believe in Santa Claus.

 

 

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2015/dec/08/statistics-show-cities-key-future-planet-un-climate-change

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