Children and young people will suffer the consequences of climate change and should have a voice in decisions about mitigation, argue youth delegates. (iStock)

Canadian youths seek a voice at climate conference

A youth delegation from Canada’s western province of British Columbia is attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) which just started in Katowice, Poland with a goal of having the voice of youth heard.

“We and our children will be facing the largest impacts,” says Marina Melanidis, COP24 youth delegate with The British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC), is a network that engages in sustainable development and social justice issues.

“We’re the ones that are going to be living to see the consequences of whatever decisions are made or not made at COP24 in Poland. So, it’s incredibly important that we are engaged meaningfully to contribute to these decisions.”

Climate change is top of mind for young Canadians, suggests a limited survey. (iStock)

Few believe youth voices are heard

A limited survey conducted by the BCCIC suggests that almost half of young people think about climate change every day and over 80 per cent think of it at least weekly. At the same time, fewer than seven per cent think youth voices are being heard on the subject.

“We are concerned about the impact of extreme weather, of environmental degradation and population health consequences and we don’t feel we are being represented in these discussions,” says Melanidis.

The delegation will focus on empowering youth in the decision making process, the inclusion and participation of civil society organization in decisions and policy advocacy from the Canadian standpoint.

Canada not doing enough, says youth delegate

Melanidis says Canada is making some progress in mitigating climate change but that it will not meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement and needs to do more.

She also favours a move away from the dire language used in discussing climate change.

“While we cannot afford to forget what’s at stake, action feels much more feasible when there is an alternative future in mind. I think we need to do a better job of emphasizing the positive opportunities and the hope that really exists.”

Marina Melanidis describe young people`s concerns about climate change and what her delegation hopes to achieve at COP24.

Categories: Environment, International
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