by Graham Reeder
Good news at last: the first consensus at COP16 has been reached; even better news: it was pushed through by youth! Article 6 under the convention refers to Education, Training, and Public Awareness which is a key issue for young and future generations in order for them to adapt to the coming changes in the environment. The chair of the working group that was deciding on the issue joked at the beginning that negotiators deserved a gold star if they could come to an agreement on this Article, he didn’t think that much progress was possible at COP 16 on this issue. The United States made a huge effort to stall and block progress on the negotiations, until a representative from the Dominican Republic pointed out the vast numbers of youth in the room who were waiting for and demanding progress. A slew of supportive statements followed and the United States delegation was pressured to back down.
Youth NGOs (YOUNGOs) have worked tirelessly on this issue for some time now, and the Article 6 working group was ecstatic to report that they got all of their demands into the text and ultimately much of the text that they had written into the final Article. In recognition of this win, and in rhetoric jest regarding the Chair’s facetious comment, youth went around giving key negotiators big gold stars for them to wear for the next couple of days.
There has been too much dialogue and media coverage about how the UN has failed to produce tangible results against climate change and that this is not the most effective forum to deal with it, suggesting bilateral and multilateral deals between nations. This position masks the real culprits: nations who have been consciously slowing the process by blocking progress and resorting to backroom negotiating that produce pathetic results. It is important to reinforce that bilateral/multilateral deals would largely exclude the global south and other impacted stakeholders, leading to a deal or series of deals that could potentially make things worse for them; the UN may not be perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got for now. The unexpected success on Article 6 of the convention shows that the impossible is possible when negotiators get to work and when civil society puts enough pressure on them to do so.