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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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Part 1: Our Fight for One Planet, One Ocean, One Voice by Luciana, Alfredo, Shriya, and Cathy

Our Fight for One Planet, One Ocean, One Voice by Luciana Verástegui, Alfredo Lorenzo Sablay, Shriya Mohanty, and Cathy Yitong Li from YOUNGO’s Ocean’s Voice Working Group

Ocean’s Voice at a COP26 Press Conference

In the picture: Luciana Verástegui, Co-contact point of Ocean’s Voice

The ocean is this beautiful unexplored place that makes the earth habitable, is the true lung of the planet.

As UNFCCC Youth Constituency (YOUNGO)’s Ocean’s Voice Working Group, we aim to raise our voice for awareness of the ocean’s challenges and contribute to their solutions by creating new models of thinking, collaboration, communication and action.

Formed at COP25 in Madrid, Ocean’s Voice has worked on more than 10 international and regional projects that have been carried out during this pandemic year (Annual Report), including releasing our Ocean Day video to raise awareness that the ocean is one and we are its voice “One Ocean, One Voice”, and to highlight that all actions, direct or indirect, in any region of the world, ultimately affects the ocean.

At COP26, we are delighted that the Marrakesh Partnership has dedicated a theme day to ocean actions, and we are pleased that ministers signed the declaration to enhance ocean action. However, challenges remain. Despite the increasing awareness, ocean finance is extremely lacking.

Although the ocean covers 70% of our planet's surface, carries 90% of global trade, absorbs 30% of our global annual emissions, and is the biggest carbon sink that we have, there is only less than 1% of climate finance products and services on oceans.

Global Youth Statement on the Ocean

We are pleased that the Global Youth Statement (GYS) of the 16th UN Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY16) hosted by YOUNGO was taken into account by the COP Presidency and national governments. The chapter on Water, Sanitation, and Oceans focused on clean water access, elimination of water pollution and waste, ocean acidification and blue carbon, and ocean pollution and disasters.

It strongly called for safe water access for all through integrated water resource management, recognizing local knowledge and practices, strong policies and regulations that would mainstream relevant issues into climate policies, and enhanced support for research and development. Furthermore, UN agencies, UNFCCC constituencies, and national governments are urged to enhance collaboration in the creation of sustainable, resilient, and community-based solutions, to protect the water and ocean along with all its biodiversity and ecosystems and maintain essential balance in the context of climate change-induced alterations.

Inspired by the urgency of issues plaguing our ocean raised at COP26, we are collaborating with the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Uno.Cinco, UN Association Climate and Oceans to advance our Global Youth Statement on the ocean. The statement will cover pressing and timely issues as well as propose and urge solutions and policies on key points regarding the ocean including Ecosystem Services; Ocean Governance; Blue Economy; Youth Involvement & Participation; and Research Technology, & Innovation for Ocean Health.

We wish to raise the awareness of world leaders to be conscious of our needs and demands in order to protect the ocean following the 7 ocean literacy principles. In addition, we call for the recognition of the role each country has in the Ocean, and we urge enhanced collaboration, communication and action under the understanding that everything is interconnected.

Next year

We aim for our working group to become the space where young people feel free to raise their voices and to overcome the intergenerational barrier, and we want to give impetus to young people who find their vocation and become the leaders of today.

Looking ahead, we hope to see more joint work on the ocean by UNFCCC, WMO, UNEP, CBD, and to make sure that youth are being included in all processes and areas of work at an international, national, and local level.


About the Authors

This article was written by Luciana Verástegui, Alfredo Lorenzo Sablay, Shriya Mohanty, and Cathy Yitong Li from YOUNGO’s Ocean’s Voice Working Group

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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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