Since I’m here at Cancun, I’m working with the Haitian delegation in taking notes, assisting and helping coordinate some meetings. Attending the conference is really important to me and I’m beginning to learn and better understand the complexity of global climate change negotiations. Indeed, I took part in this side event “Bearers of Future Responsibility: Engaging Children and Youth in Building Climate Change Resilience,” in which many representatives of UNICEF and UNESCO brought some children and youths from many countries such as Belize, Mexico, Indonesia and Haiti among others to talk about their work and actions against climate change. And to call negotiators to make concrete decisions for green and sustainable development that can ensure and promise their future.
All the children showed many projects they have been doing to take actions to adapt to climate change, and demonstrated how concerned they are about their future regarding climate change problems. All of them are experiencing the impacts of climate change and are victims of extreme events such as floods, droughts, sea level rise, deforestation, air pollution and hurricanes among other, which affect their well-being as children. One of them, Coralie Norris from Haiti, says she is 14 years old and has experienced 14 hurricanes because since she was child she has been facing the effects of hurricanes in Haiti. Also she remembers that once Haiti was green and had many butterflies, but today one can only see a butterfly by chance in Haiti. All the children said that Climate change affects their education because sometimes they cannot go to school if some extreme event is happening. This is the reason they are asking for concrete and immediate decisions because children are not only the future but also the present.
Something really important and interesting to me is that one of the representatives asked the children about their plan to strengthen environmental education and involve more youth and children in the movement against climate change when they are back home. Many of the children say that they are going to inform youth in their country, promote recycling programs and conserve water and energy, among other actions. However, Coralie, the 14 year old girl from Haiti, said to Yvo de Boer (Special Global Advisor, Climate Change and Sustainability), “I’m going to work and implement my eco-project in Haiti, but I also have a question for you: Do you realize how many paper and air conditioning we are using here at the Cop16; how can we ask to cut down gas emission if we are not willing to cut down our consumption as well?” The conference doesn’t show a good example in fighting against climate change so negotiators need to be educated in order to act properly.
Finally, all the public and representatives are agreeing with Norris, and then encourage all the children to keep working and acting against climate change. Representatives promise to reinforce the voice of youth and children under the UNFCCC negotiations and work to strengthen environmental education in the most vulnerable communities around the world. “It is important to create opportunities and open doors to the youth and child, and then have them as part of the negotiations to ensure green development and a better life for the future generation,” said Yvo de Boer.