bringing together thousands of young people from across the globe under the banner of climate action.
COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said: “This COP is working to build a global legacy and a better future for youth and children. This is a turnaround COP that will ensure full inclusivity is at the heart of the climate process.”
Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day convened in Dubai on 8 December, with the COP28 Presidency delivery on its commitment to put young people at the center of climate diplomacy. The day finished with a graduation ceremony for the first-of-its-kind Youth Climate Delegates Program.
Around one billion children are currently at extreme high risk from the impacts of climate change and many young people are already leading climate action all over the world. However, young people still have limited input into climate policymaking. Acknowledging the value and necessity of meaningful youth inclusion in the COP process, COP28’s Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day brought together young leaders to discuss central youth policy proposals for COP28 and to formulate a 2023 Global Youth Statement.
Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day saw the Dubai Youth Climate Dialogue and Youth Stocktake Launch event. Attended by Parties, young leaders, and key youth stakeholders, it marked the finale of the COP mandated youth-led dialogue forum to discuss the central youth policy proposals for COP28 and the 2023 Global Youth Statement.
The day included the announcement and discussion of the first ever Youth Stocktake, led by YOUNGO (the Children and Youth Constituency of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) and supported by Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, the Youth Climate Champion (YCC). The Youth Stocktake represents the first extensive research analysis of youth inclusion in UNFCCC and youth policy outcomes. It offers a comprehensive analysis of youth inclusion, engagement, best practices, and strategies for amplifying youth participation in decision-making.
Reflecting on the day, Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, Youth Climate Champion commented: “At this COP, we have witnessed unprecedented initiatives fostering children and youth inclusion. With 110 dedicated delegates on the ground, our youth have not only made a significant impact through numerous speaking engagements and negotiations but have also effectively represented their communities. Today, and all the activity that has led to it, is focused on catalyzing transformative change that will stand as a lasting legacy for future COPs.”
Throughout 2023, the COP28 Presidency has also called for strong action to improve global climate education, ensuring that future generations are equipped with the skills they need to unlock the opportunity of a Just Transition. During Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day, 38 countries agreed to sign the UNESCO Greening Education Partnership Declaration, committing to incorporate climate education into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).
Education and future skills were a key focal point throughout the day, with a series of events designed to help young people unlock future career opportunities. 50 young people joined the Marketplace of the Future, a speed-dating-style event that sought to connect young delegates with access to funding, mentorship and job opportunities.
Around 1,000 young people also attended a Green Skills Fair, which connected participants with potential employment opportunities or funding and offered an opportunity for networking with potential employers and leading climate experts.
Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day closed with a graduation ceremony for the COP28 Youth Climate Delegates Program, which saw 110 young people from all over the world come together to celebrate their participation in the program. The Youth Climate Delegates Program represents the largest initiative to-date to expand youth participation in the COP process and had a special focus on delegates from Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States, Indigenous Peoples, and other minority groups. The young delegates who took part were equipped with full funding to participate, establishing a pioneering new model for youth inclusion in the COP process.
In September, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted the ‘General Comment No. 26 (2023) on Children’s Rights and the Environment with a Special Focus on Climate Change’. This landmark pronouncement acknowledged the negative impact of climate change on all child rights, reemphasizing the right that every child has to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. However, despite their greater vulnerability to climate change, just 2.4 percent of climate finance from key multilateral funds is child responsive. COP28’s Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day therefore represents a critical moment to engage youth in climate policymaking, ensuring the meaningful inclusion of children, young people and other marginalized groups in the process of climate policymaking.
Recognizing the critical role of children and young people in global climate action and peacebuilding, the COP28 Presidency is committed to ensuring the meaningful engagement of young people and other marginalized groups in the COP process. As a country with a young population, the UAE has long emphasized the importance of youth in leadership positions, demonstrated by the appointment of Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui as the YCC, who was the youngest minister in the world when she first stepped into the role.
During COP28’s Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day, the UAE also announced a new $220 million funding package for Africa, to help drive better health outcomes for youth.