Latinamerica and Caribbean Youth Statement at COP25

December 5th, Madrid. Youth from Latin-

American and Caribbean presented today at COP25 Chile in Madrid a statement on some of the common issues, concerns and demands for the region. Felipe Fontecilla (COA '20) from our delegation participated virtually from Chile on the deliberation process.

Find below the statement presented:

The Latin American and Caribbean youth present at COP25, declares its first statement within the context of this Convention. This statement was obtained through discussion, dialogue and consensus, carried out horizontally and collectively, regarding the situation our region within the climate and environmental crisis.

1. In view of the fact that our region is home to a greater part of the biodiversity existing in the world and with awareness of the environmental, cultural relevance and the value that this presents for the entire planet as a mitigation site of Climate Change, we pronounce and demand, as young people, as citizens of the world and of Latin America and the Caribbean that the public, private, academia, civil society and other sectors commit themselves to act jointly with us in the protection of biodiversity. This commitment must be crystallized through the implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures in natural areas for their preservation, combined to a strong impulse of nature-based solutions, since they not only represent a great opportunity to mitigate emissions carbon, but also, promote social and environmental justice from which we all benefit.

2. We strongly reject the policies and practices that encourage the continuity of a carbon dependent economy, based on the extraction of oil, natural gas and other fossil resources for the energy and economic support of the nations that integrate Latin America and the Caribbean. We believe that nations and governments, by encouraging these practices and opening their way to their development plans and policies, not only lack their commitment to compliance with the Paris Agreement and Nationally Determined Contributions, but also become a threat to their own populations and thus betray the entire region. This is because the consequences that fossil industries and economies have on the effects of climate change do not know borders, extending and affecting unevenly in different populations and countries that integrate this region.

3. We also extend a strong rejection towards extractive and environmental deterioration practices with serious socio-environmental consequences and extremely unfair to the environment and people. We especially emphasize the practices that are developed and depend directly on the intervened spaces, where the consequences represent crimes and human rights violations of people who depend on the ecosystems that these practices destroy.

4. We make a commitment and erect an uncompromising stance towards the elimination of oppressive relations with different groups of society, starting with those that exist towards groups of native people, towards women and dissidents, african-americans, migrants , among other. We recognize that it is urgent that oppression is extinguished from our territories and that it is only through a true inclusion of these groups, that we can make an effective front to solve the environmental problems that we all share. In general, we demand a stop to all forms of oppression, discrimination and exclusion of all oppressed groups, even those not explicitly mentioned in this document. We demand that gender factor is incorporated when referring to climate change. Both mitigation and adaptation policies should consider the different roles and responsibilities that this structural differences represent. We must not allow climate change policies to exacerbate existing gender inequalities. On the contrary, we are presented with a great opportunity to reduce the existing gap.

6. Although we understand that young people are occupying everyday more space on

the public agenda, we believe that there is still a need for us to have a real impact on

decision making. We are about 20% of our region’s population and we are not

properly represented in the political system. This is why we ask on one hand to be

part of the international negotiating groups but also to foster the conditions so that we

can fully participate in our political and parliamentary systems.

7. Our region is highly vulnerable to socio-environmental conflicts to which climate

change effects have a positive feedback. For this reason, we urge the action of our

governments, the companies that work in this region, society, youth, academia,

intergovernmental and civil society organizations to act together to stop these

negative impacts with catastrophic environmental and social consequences.

8. One of the areas that need more focus because of its vulnerability to climate change

are marine ecosystems, coastal and island areas. Particularly, mangroves, coral

reefs, marshes and seagrasses offer numerous benefits that contribute to the

environment. It is necessary to attend and implement better conservation and

protection measures for coastal areas and island areas. In addition, these systems,

known as blue carbon ecosystems, are crucial carbon wells for mitigating emissions

that cause climate change but are extremely scarce on the global marine surface.

9. We invite governments, youth and other parts of civil society to start building together

a circular economy that decouples resource use from the growth of our region's

economies. We also require our governments to implement public policies to reduce

the production of plastics, particularly single-use plastics and microplastics.

10. We demand a reform of the food production system. The agro-industrial production

model is devastating ecosystems and communities. An immediate agro-ecological

and cultural transition is needed to ensure food security. We demand the stop of

indiscriminate use and release of new agrotoxics, deforestation, transformation of

ecosystems, and the destruction of communities and animal and plant populations

with the ecosystem services they provide. We propose the creation of projects for

environmental recovery and sanitation of degraded areas. It is necessary to transition

our diet to one that gradually reduces consumption of animal products and propose

to accompany this transition with a diet based on agroecological integral vegetables,

without animal exploitation. Enough animal industrialization.

11. We must stress that both the food proposals and the generation and management of

waste at this Conference of the Parties do not comply with the measures promoted in

this same space and in the IPCC reports. For the next meetings we see the need for

this to be changed, providing many more vegetarian and vegan food options and

reducing the use of disposables, particularly single-use plastics and paper.

12. We demand that all countries in the region declare the climate and ecological

emergency, starting with a government-level declaration backed by an official and/or

legal document. The implementation must fall heavily on the action of the

administrations and local communities, contemplating in all their actions the sectorsof society as a whole. These declarations must transcend words and documents and

become real actions for the achievement of the Nationally Determined Contributions

of each country, and the carbon-neutrality of the region towards 2050.

13. We insist on the importance of climate policy decisions that include, respect and

protect human rights, and that any action taken does not result in additional damage

to the most vulnerable communities, increasing the inequality that already exists in

the region. We also extend our profound solidarity and support to the peoples of

Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela,

who today are going through social upheavals with just citizen demands. We urge

governments to immediately stop human rights violations committed in the context of

repression of the legitimate social mobilization of these peoples, recognizing that the

social crisis is also an ecological crisis.

14. We strongly demand an end to murder, physical and psychological threats and all

forms of violence and oppression against environmental leaders in the region. In this

case, we would like to highlight the murder cases of: Julián Carrillo, indigenous

leader in Chihuahua (Mexico), Luis Arturo Marroquín (Guatemala), Macarena Valdés

(Chile), Arnulfo Ceron Soriano (Mexico), Berta Cáceres (Honduras), Paulo Paulino

Guajajara (Brazil), among many others murdered and persecuted for their activism

and tireless commitment to our struggle. For the youth of our region, the

normalization and perpetuation of these cases of oppression and violence is

unacceptable. For this reason, we demand that governments and authorities initiate

processes and actions that grant justice to those affected, as well as the

implementation of necessary and sufficient methods of prevention to guarantee the

safety of all those involved in the causes and movements of environmental

protection, of protest against extractive industries and climate action. We raise our

voices on behalf of all those who fought and are no longer here: Whoever fights for

life never dies.

15. Therefore, we conclude with a call, a demand, a petition and an urgent

proposal to the governments of the countries of the region to sign and ratify

the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and

Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, better known as the Escazú Agreement, as soon as possible. We demand its immediate ratification before December 2020.

The youth of Latin America and the Caribbean present at the COP25 closes here it’s first

declaration, which, it is worth mentioning, was achieved through the consensus of all the

participants. Please remember that those of us who are here today in this Conference do not do so because it is a right, but because we have a great privilege, which is why we call for the continued expansion of these spaces of participation for all the youth of our countries.

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