By Katie Ruth, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
Did you know that 25% of the global population is under the age of 15? When we talk about climate change and its manifesting (and expected) impacts, we are talking about the futures of a quarter of the world’s population! One of the priorities of the Episcopal Church delegation is ensuring that the voices of youth are uplifted, heard, and prioritized in climate negotiation and action. So what has been happening with youth at COP28?
In the first week, the youth brought a strong voice. At the Faith Pavilion, youth, including Julia Rensberg, spoke as part of an event, Interfaith Youth Dialogue on Climate Justice, Promoting Resilience and Hope, exploring climate justice, Indigenous sacred relationship to land, and how to support vulnerable populations. During a high-level address, young Ecuadorian Majo Andrade Cerda called for Indigenous representation on the Board of Loss and Damage and highlighted the need for urgent action in response to the climate crisis. Francisco Vera Manzanares of Columbia has spoken at multiple side events calling for the centering of children’s rights in policy and negotiation. Revan Ahemd of Libya shared in a press conference, “We dream of a future with clean water, a future where food security is a reality and we get to go to school without worrying about floods or high heat. The world leaders owe it to future generations.” Young voices have called for a global ceasefire, noting government spending on war and the neglect of sufficient climate funding. Youths have called for a number of priorities at COP28 through the Global Citizen network, emphasizing the implementation of the loss and damage fund, climate financing, just transition, and transparency. YOUNGO is the official group for children and youth constituencies in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has issued a youth stocktake also.
Over the next week and beyond, the young will continue to guide us in answering big questions about shared futures on a livable planet – the question that remains is, will we listen and act?
Katie is serving with the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop’s Delegation to COP28. They chair the creation care committee in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania and are a member of St Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral. They are also the Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light. You can follow along with their COP28 updates on their Substack, Katie’s Reflections.