Young and Future Generations Day

by Tara Allen

Thursday was a big day for youth action here in Cancun. There were a series of events and actions planned all day to get the youth involved in the conference and to get their voices heard by negotiators. Also, press releases and side events were put on by delegations made up of youth members to show their commitment and care for the UNFCCC process and the environment.

The first event was a silent line up, which Moises and I participated in, that happened bright and Thursday morning. The underlining meaning of being silent during this event was to represent that although the youth may care about and understand what is going on at the conference, they are not completely heard because they do not have a say in the official negotiations.

At about 8 o’clock, when negotiators were arriving at the Cancun Messe, which they must pass though to get to the Moon Palace where the negotiations take place, the youth lined up along the path to the buses so that they could not be avoided. Around fifty youth lined up wearing their blue youth shirts for the occasion. The front of these shirts have outlines of people, representing the growth of the youth involved in the UNFCCC process, and on the back there is a quote that says, “You have been negotiating all my life, you cannot tell me that you need more time,” which was said by Christian Ora from the Solomon Islands at COP15 in Copenhagen. The youth stood with their hands crossed behind their backs and everyone stood alternating facing forwards and backwards so that both sides of the shirt could be seen by negotiators. If a youth was asked a question by a negotiator, they would not answer, they would just stand there in silence. Many negotiators passed and I heard them reading our shirts out loud.

credit – Linh Do

The second action of the day was a flash dance that took place at noon in the same area as the first action, as well as with a second location on front of the Moon Palace. Again, Moises and I took part in this event as well. The dance was similar to the one that youth presented in Copenhagen last year as well. All over the world at noon, youth gathered together to present this dance to show their support and commitment to cutting emissions and reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

The final event at the conference was the “Youth Market.” Different youth delegations set up booths in the Cancun Messe to sell their futures. The event was advertized to negotiators without them knowing that the market was really a ploy to raise awareness. Anjali, Moises, and I all set up a booth (described further in a previous entry by Moises) and yelled sales pitches for people to buy ocean pH to adicify the ocean. The event gathered tons of media attention and many negotiators came to see what it was all about. Here’s a link to a video that gives you some idea of what the event was like, Youth Market.

Other events were happening through out the day at the Klimaforum. Workshops, events, and actions took place all day and many youth came at the end of the day to hang out and connect.

One event that happened at the Klimaforum was the formation of “350!” and “1.5° C” written out with people on the lawn as well as a video of advocating 1.5 for survival. This event took place to show youths support for, an organization started by Bill McKibben with the hopes of getting the amount of carbon in the atmosphere back down to 350 ppm (parts per million).  Graham, Mariana, and Ayla all participated in this event.

Also, a video was recorded that Graham and I took part in. The video shows how throughout all of the negotiations over the years, the youth movement has been growing not only in numbers but also in age. We talked about things that youth are doing to live more sustainable lives and thinking about the state of the future.

All in all it was a very eventful day.

#COP16 #UNFCCC #EarthinBrackets #CollegeoftheAtlantic #climatechange

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