Eco-Thursdays: COP26 Youth Empowerment Day

Friday 5th November was Youth and Public Empowerment Day at COP26 in Glasgow. Here’s a summary of the day’s events:

Fridays for Future March

On Friday, Greta Thunberg led the Glasgow Fridays for Future march, with around 100,000 young activists and protestors joining the protest to call for meaningful action on climate change. They centred MAPA in the march and the speeches which followed – the Most Affected People and Areas. This refers to the disproportionate affect that climate change and environmental breakdown is having and will continue to have on the most disadvantaged communities around the world.

Greta criticised the proceedings at COP26 earlier in the week, citing meaningless words and little follow through as signals that real change would not be generated within the conference’s halls.

Youth Representation

The youth version of COP26, Climate of Youth 16, put together a Global Youth Position statement this Autumn, representing the views of over 40,000 young people around the world. COY16 held virtual workshops and conferences in the weeks leading up to COP26 to enable young people to discuss environmental priorities and put together a joint statement on the action that is needed to tackle environmental breakdown. Young climate activists were also invited to join politicians in the summit in Glasgow to share their views on youth empowerment day.

The Global Youth Position statement covered topics including climate finance,

transportation, and wildlife conservation. In September, a Youth4Climate summit was held in Milan, and produced a manifesto developed by 400 young people at the event. This manifesto, along with the COY16 statement, was discussed by leaders towards the end of the day. It is unclear, however, whether these statements created any new actions.

Curriculum Commitments

On youth empowerment day, 23 countries made pledges to include better climate education in their curriculums. This includes the UK, South Korea, Albania, and Sierra Leone. The pledges range from commitments to decarbonising the education sector to new school resources.

The UK announced a draft Sustainability and Climate Change strategy, which would see the introduction of a Primary Science Model Curriculum to develop children’s conservation skills. The full strategy and further curriculum changes will be announced in April 2022. The UK has also raised the potential introduction of a new Duke of Edinburgh-style climate award for students at school. The Climate Leaders Award would be celebrated with a national ceremony each year, and focus on developing sustainability skills and protecting their local environment.