UK youth group eagerly awaits Durban COY7

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
By: 
Kemantha Govender

Durban - A number of youth groups who are making a difference in the fight to save the planet will be attending the Conference of the Youth (COY7), set to take place before COP17 in Durban later this month.

The UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC), which has trained over 350 young people in public speaking and sustainable living, will be sending a delegation of around 13 from all over the UK, from Scotland to the South East of England, to COY7.

They sent a delegation of 23 young people to the climate negotiations in Copenhagen last year, who produced a series of documentaries to inspire young people in the UK to take positive action.

Matt Williams, the press officer for UKYCC, told BuaNews, that some of the UKYCC delegation members have been involved in the planning of the COY7 since June.

"They've been working hard to prepare this three day conference that allows international and local youth to meet, strategise, learn and have fun. We've been involved in every area of planning from the logistics to the participation," said Williams.

During COY7, the coalition hopes to add to the program by hosting their own workshops on social media training and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC policy sessions.

"We believe strongly that the decisions that are going to be made need to be as strong and ambitious as possible, whether they are regarding finance, mitigation, adaptation or anything. As young people, we're calling on all countries to do whatever they can to guarantee a fair deal for future generations," he said.

The UKYCC is also keen to work hard as part of YOUNGO, the official youth constituency. "We want to help make YOUNGO the home of fun and exciting young people who are effective at influencing the negotiations on behalf of global youth."

The delegates are excited to experience the colour of Durban. "And of course, because we're British, we're particularly keen to see how nice the weather is".

Explaining the work of the coalition, Williams said the UKYCC is made up of young people from all over the UK. "We don't really have a central meeting space as such, but our diversity is our greatest strength. We bring our networks, contacts and friends to our work on climate change," said Williams.

Building networks and having youth all over the UK means the UKYCC can reach out to young people everywhere, rather than focussing all their efforts in London.

Williams said all it takes sometimes is explaining why climate change issue matters so much to the current generation.

"While individual actions are important, there's so much more that young people can do than just recycling or changing their light bulbs ... transitioning to a green society is a chance to have more green jobs and to improve the prospects for young people," he said

The UKYCC also facilitates the Power Shift - an international event that began in the US in 2007 and has since mobilised over 25 000 young people around the globe.

Power Shift offers an opportunity for young people to come together and share their stories and experiences, build their skills and create energy for positive action on climate change.

"We ran Power Shift in the UK in 2009 and brought together 350 young people in London. Over three days of training, workshops, speakers and a final flash dance in central London we generated new energy in the youth climate movement," said Williams.

The next Power Shift will be in 2012 over two and a half days in Manchester.

"We'll be calling for more green jobs and more opportunities for young people, both in the job market and in wider society. It's unacceptable for government to be complacent on tackling youth unemployment and climate change and we want to show that young people are ready to lead the way and that they must follow," added Williams.

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