The 13th Conference Of Youth (COY13) took place before the opening of COP23 in Bonn from November 2 to 4. This meeting brought together international organizations and associations of young people engaged in climate action. It is part of the International Youth Climate Movement, which holds and directs climate actions organized by youth. YOUNGO is one of 9 civil society groups represented in the UNFCCC and has been accredited as an observer member since 2009.
I was at the YOUNGO meeting this morning, where young people from all over the world gathered with the bottom-lining team (which is YOUNGO slang for managing team) to discuss and brief the audience about what is happening in the negotiations. The way these people talk and lead meetings is very nice. It is based upon deep transparency and equality rules, where everyone can hold the microphone to share their views.
The meeting began with the famous energizer, a short role-playing game where everyone sings, dances and shakes their body to wake up. Every meeting relies on the some communication rules in order to not to create a mess each time a discussion is brought to the table. This helps ensure a democratic process. If you fully agree with something being said, turn your wrists above your head. If you do not, move one hand up and down. To talk after someone, raise your hand above your head. If you want to make a direct response to a long speech, lower this hand towards the ground.
The meeting then continued with a discussion about the results of an internal election of representatives of the Global South. The atmosphere became tense over disagreements resulting from a previous discussion. Voices of speakers, seated all around in the audience, became more and more trembling, aggressive or calming, until a woman said: “We are here to fight against climate change, not to fight against each other.” Her intervention helped bring the discussion to a close. However a few people remained emotional, as they had spent day and night negotiating these agreements.
Tears and tensions are part of the will to bring about global change as are smiles and joys. Thanks to these profoundly engaged young people, the agreements signed by the parties incorporate youth interests.