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Youth Voices, Unfiltered


Scroll through to see young people's take on the global climate emergency, and the work that they are doing to fight against climate change.
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Introduction to YOUNGO by Veena Balakrishnan

Introduction to YOUNGO by Veena Balakrishnan

Youth Action on Climate Policy

Climate Change - the biggest discussion of our generation, is also a unique and one of the most complex problems that humanity has faced so far. The intertwined nature of actions, our interdependencies on each other, and our diverse priorities in decision-making only add to the complexity of this problem. One thing to understand here would be that although at the onset it may look like climate change could have different impacts on people in different parts of the world, we can only survive as a race by standing together, through solidarity and with each other’s help.

As a generation of millennials and generation Z who make up more than 60% of the population today, we are the largest ever youth generation. We are feeling the effects of past and current climate related decisions, failures and successes which led us into multiple existential crises and the climate emergency. But we are not only victims, we are part of the solution. Hence we have the moral obligation and right to partake in climate processes and sit at the tables when decisions about our and your future are taken. This is where YOUNGO comes in.

A glimpse into YOUNGO

YOUNGO is the official Children and Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC. We are the mandated mechanism and a network of over 1000 children and youth focused groups, and over 10,000 individuals from over 170 countries who are below the age of 35 years and are passionate about climate action. YOUNGO is organized in different Working Groups that focus on different aspects of the UNFCCC negotiations and beyond, and strongly believes in intergenerational leadership.

YOUNGO is entirely by youth, with youth and for youth. We have an organised, flat structure with no hierarchies - all decisions are taken by consensus via established decision-making guidelines. All engaging entities e.g. different NGOs – irrespective of their scale, have an equal voice. YOUNGO members work on a voluntary basis driven by intrinsic motivation to fulfil our vision and mission, while following YOUNGO’s Principles and Code of Conduct.

A little History

From the very beginning of the negotiations under the UNFCCC, youth have been actively engaged at the annual Conference of Parties and the biannual Inter-sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies. In 2005, we formally gathered in Montreal ahead of COP11 to make our voices structurally heard, thus creating the first Global Conference of Youth (COY) and participated under a self-organised umbrella name - International Youth Climate Movement (IYCM).

Shortly before 2009 and COP15, there was a general intention within the youth constituents to formalise the participation of youth at UNFCCC. The UNFCCC secretariat and the Parties officially recognised youth as an observer constituency of its own and confirmed the status in 2011, to represent the formal voice of children and youth in UNFCCC processes. At present, YOUNGO is the oldest and largest volunteer-run children and youth constituency to a UN convention or entity.

If you are under the age of 35, and work on climate action, or want to engage in climate action, YOUNGO is a perfect fit for you. You could join us by filling our membership form. We look forward to working together with you to make our future safe for all of us.

YOUNGO Members at COP26 (Photo Credit: YOUNGO)


About the Author

Veena Balakrishnan is the YOUNGO COP26 Communication Lead.

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Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth supports all young people and their diversity in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Reach Not Preach platform serves as a safe space for all young people to share their take on the topic of climate change. The views expressed in the Reach Not Preach platform are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and the United Nations.

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