“Although understanding of the need to include young people in the various processes that lead to political decisions is growing – especially due to the ’Gretha Thunberg effect’ – we’re not there yet,” says Jasmin Lang, the Austrian youth delegate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Youth delegates speaking about the UNFCCC climate negotiations
Jasmin joined youth delegates from Denmark who hosted the first Nordic event at COP28. They explained the work done by youth delegates to the UNFCCC and discussed various issues and strategies. One key issue that stood out in the debate was the failure to include the Global South.
Empowering young people in the Global South
Lang said that the Austrian youth delegates have been pushing for the inclusion of the Global South for several years. This year, youth representative from the Global South was as part of the Austrian delegation. Jasmin explains why:
“It’s important to include young people from all over the world. Because there isn’t just one youth voice. We are different people with different perspectives,” Jasmin explains.
Ibiso Ikiroma-Owiye from Nigeria is now part of the Austrian youth delegation, a role she appreciates. However, she points out that it’s not enough that she is now part of the process.
“I would love to see youth reps from all countries in all regions,” she says.
The Global South is hit hard
It is hard to argue against the right of young people from the Global South to have their voices heard. According to the UN, the global North has been – and still is – responsible for the vast majority of CO2 emissions, which cause massive droughts, violent storms, water shortages and devastation to agriculture in the Global South. In turn, these problems exacerbate poverty in the poorest parts of the world and trigger new waves of refugees.