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Youth-Led Activities Take Center Stage at Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

From 13-17 November, the Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023 (APCW 2023) showcased the vibrant participation of young people from across the region in events co-convened by the Youth Empowerment in Climate Action Platform (YECAP) and its partners.


a group of young people at an event
Youth Delegates from the Youth4Capacity #3 session

Held in Malaysia and hosted by the Government of Johor, APCW 2023 featured global partners such as the UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, UNFCCC, World Bank Group, and regional partners including UNESCAP, Asian Development Bank, IGES, and UNGCMYB. The event took place at Persada Johor International Convention Centre in Johor Bahru.


Regional Climate Weeks (RCWs) like APCW 2023 serve as collaborative platforms where governments and non-governmental organizations address various climate issues under one umbrella, inspiring individuals and organizations to contribute to global climate goals.


The week opened with thematic tracks covering energy and industry, cities, settlements, infrastructure and transport, land, ocean, food, and water, as well as societies, health, livelihoods, and economies. The youth-led sessions effectively captured these overarching themes through interactive and thought-provoking activities.


Youth for Capacity Building


group of young people in an activity
Credit: UNFCCC

YECAP and partners co-convened three Youth4Capacity sessions. Youth4Capacity is co-led by UNFCCC and the Italian Ministry of Environment and Energy Security.


During "Youth4Capacity #1 - Youth participation in and skills development for a just transition" session in collaboration with COP28, UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, YOUNGO, Care About Climate, and UNESCAP, two publications were launched: the UNESCAP Policy Brief on Meaningful Youth Engagement in Climate Action in Asia and the Pacific, guiding regional institutions, and the YECAP Compendium of Best Practices on Youth and Climate Governance in Asia and the Pacific, sharing success country stories.


The session referred to the 79th ESCAP Commission Session Youth Statement which demanded stakeholders to ensure meaningful partnerships with youth of all demographics and support the development of young people.


"Youth4Capacity #2 - Empowering Youth in Asia-Pacific to Co-Create Climate Policy Solutions" was co-organized by ADB, UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, YOUNGO, UNU-IAS, UNGCMYB, and YECAP.


Dr. Mark Akrofi, Postdoctoral Research Fellow on Equitable Energy Transition, United Nations University and Kyoto University, Reshma Ram, IYCDP COP28 Delegate and Research Assistant, University of the South Pacific, and Mohamed Husni, Co-Founder and Director of Programme Strategy, IMPACT VOICES - The Social Innovation Intermediary took on a Hot Seat discussion and shared their views on creating an enabling environment to foster green jobs creation at scale.


Speaker Mohamed Husni, Co-Founder and Director of Programme Strategy, Impact Voices inspired the youth participants with his background from being a volunteer for a soil based management project to becoming an international climate champion for a global programme.


group of young people drawing
Credit: Aizzat Nordin

"Youth4Capacity #3 - Human Library Workshop: Amplifying Community-Led Climate Action in Driving Change'' was co-convened by Seastainable Co., YOUNGO, Care About Climate, Sarawak Eco Warriors, and YECAP.


Participants learned personal stories from five young climate leaders acting as human books. Max Han from Malaysia told a story of deforestation and the lack of rain in his home country. Dircia Belo from Timor-Leste told a story of food supply and water shortage in hers. Kim Allen from Papua New Guinea told a story of water resource issues and the lack of access to schools on his island. Paul Belisario from the Philippines told a story of real life threats to environmental human rights defenders' safety and protection, while Sabrina Arambulo from the Philippines told a story of natural disasters and typhoons in her home country.


The climate change impacts mentioned by the speakers raised awareness as well as questions on the support needed to solve such problems.


Youth Shaping Global Climate Discourse


panelist having a discussion on stage
The first panel on whole society approach for a transformative change with young people in the driver's seat

The session "Asian Youth's Impact on Global Climate Discourse and Policies," co-led by YOUNGO and UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, showcased the influential role of young climate leaders in shaping global climate policies.


One youth keynote speaker raised a powerful question to kickstart the dialogue, “Young people are not just passive stakeholders but they are the driving force. We hear this very often but have we ever wondered what type of challenges this driving force faces every day? Have we ever tried to understand and learn what type of struggle youth climate advocates have to go through in their journey?”


Amanullah Porag, South Asia Mobilization Coordinator at 350.org and YECAP Fellow invited participants to listen to youth’s stories to be able to answer these questions. One of the youth storytellers said, “we are all in the era of Loss and Damage. There are policy gaps in Asia and the Pacific that need to be addressed as a priority.”


Youth Working Towards a Sustainable Future


man giving a presentation
Sharing of the successful case studies from YECAP Compendium of Best Practices

The side event "Sustainable Futures: Engaging and Empowering Youth in Climate Action," co-led by UNDP, UNESCAP, and RCC Bangkok, provided insights into youth-driven sustainability. Advocacy for green job transformation and the importance of reimagining climate action beyond specific job roles were highlighted.


Hemavathi S Shekhar, a lawyer and youth climate justice advocate from India urged stakeholders to reimagine green job transformation for young people because not every youth has the privilege and opportunities to transition from their current roles to green jobs.


She said, “Young people don’t have a choice to make because it is a matter of their livelihoods and personal responsibilities, especially for those living in the Global South. That is why I think that it is important to start reimagining climate action. Climate action does not necessarily mean we must have a green job but rather how we can ensure that we are taking climate action no matter what jobs we have.”


What's next?


woman speaking on a podium
Credit: UNFCCC

Throughout the week, over 3,800 registered participants including young people and Indigenous youth engaged in discussions with policymakers and government counterparts, emphasizing the commitment to Just Transition and Meaningful Youth Engagement in Climate Governance and aligning with UNDP Climate Promise priorities.


Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023 closed on a high note with a strong emphasis on just transition as the key to ensuring long-term sustainability in systemic and transformative changes that we must go through to address the immense challenges of climate emergency.


The importance of locally led actions and decisions especially made by Indigenous peoples, marginalized communities, women and youth cannot be overemphasized to Leave No One Behind.


Akiko Yamamoto, Regional Lead for Asia and the Pacific, Energy and Environment, UNDP said, “the highlights from each thematic track presented by UNDP’s regional partners showed that APCW 2023 provided valuable opportunities for everyone to discuss various climate issues emphasizing the implications to the countries and people in this region.”


The Asia Pacific Climate Week drew attention to the need for clarity, frameworks, and financing to transition to a new sustainable paradigm, moving beyond the status quo of siloed approaches to policy-making.


To learn more about APCW 2023, please visit: https://apcw2023.com/


To see the APCW 2023 youth content, please visit:https://linktr.ee/yecap.ap


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