By Sadia Jahan Rothi, Board Director, Eco-Network; Environment and Climate Advocate; CEO’s Youth Advisor, Global Center on Adaptation and YECAP Fellow
COP27 was not only an opportunity to fight for climate justice, but also to learn how nations are working to fight the climate crisis.
For me, 2022 was a year of achievement. I started my journey with the Youth Empowerment in Climate Action Platform (YECAP) as a participant of “YECAP Climate Action Week” and was selected to be a YECAP Fellow – not to mention my participation at COP27. I had been dreaming of attending COP ever since I learned about it. I never knew my dream would come true.
COP is the annual “Conference of Parties” where representatives from all over the world attend to discuss climate change. COP27 took place in the coastal city of Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt. As this was my first COP, I was both very excited and overwhelmed, especially about being at the venue in-person.
I admired how the Egyptian Presidency did not only commit to the adoption of the sustainable practice, but also tried to implement and prioritize it across the venue and within the city by ensuring sustainable mode of transportation (electric bus), reuse of water, use of renewable energy, and efficiency and adoption of waste management process.
My first week at COP27 was great. For me, it is not only an opportunity to fight for climate justice, but also to learn how nations are working to fight the climate crisis. I attended some side events related to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), energy and health, and spoke at a few of them.
One of the side events was on, “Transforming Awareness to Action: The Role of Asia-Pacific Youth in Climate Action” organized by YECAP at the SDG Pavilion. As a YECAP Fellow, I had the chance to share my climate journey and how I became a part of the YECAP community with other young climate leaders from various countries.
Furthermore, I received the opportunity to be a youth panelist at another side event on “Experiences on Integrated Approach of Adaptation and Mitigation in Bangladesh” at the Bangladesh Pavilion, organized by Friendship. It was my first time speaking at an event alongside Mr. Shahab Uddin, MP, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Ms. Habibun Nahar M.P. Honorable Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; HRH Princess Marie-Esméralda, Princess of Belgium; Founder of NGO, among other panelists.
During this event, I shared my climate story and emphasized the urgent action of the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) for the capacity building of youth by adopting an integrated approach.
COP27 Presidency’s vision is to move from negotiation and plan for implementation. The agreement to set up a Loss and Damage fund is surely a huge milestone, indicating that the demands and actions are moving towards implementation. But there is no agreement yet on where the finance should come from or how it should be provided.
For the first time in COP history, the Presidency has appointed COP27 President Youth Envoy and a dedicated pavilion, “Children & Youth Pavilion” as a home for young people from all around the world for 14 days. More than 40 events were held in this space to help to amplify youth voices.
As a result, youth have got the official recognition as stakeholders to design and implement climate policies under the ACE Action Plan. Similar to the COP27 Presidency, the Bangladesh government has also ensured youth inclusion. In 27 years, the first-ever youth-led side event took place in the Bangladesh pavilion.
The presidency ensured the youth inclusion at COP27, but on the other hand, there was a lack of representation of young women on their team. Climate justice cannot be ensured without gender inclusion too.
I think it is very important to include young people and future generations especially those from vulnerable groups and marginalized communities in negotiations and in decision making processes. It is us who are not putting the geopolitics and profits first, and it is us who truly care about our one and only planet Earth. If we do not act now, we are dimming the light of our bright collective future.