Durban as a platform for youth involvement in combating climate change

Half of the world’s population is made of an amazing group young people, creative, strong and committed to finding solutions to the world’s greatest challenge; climate change. We traveled by road, sea and air to meet with our peers in Durban, South Africa for the UN climate talks.  We began our participation with a 3-day Conference of Youth (COY7) at the University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN). We held workshops on climate change policy, linking population and climate change, media and messaging, building youth climate coalitions and we dance to the tune of “Waka Waka- it time for Africa”.  We met too with ‘elders’ who are deciding what our future will look like – without much consideration of how and what we think. We, who will inherit the present unsustainable world whichever way they leave it.

Much was at stake. After the excitement, expectation and ultimate disappointment and farce of the Copenhagen summit in December 2009, the credibility of the entire UN process has been under great scrutiny. The 2010 conference in Cancún restored some faith, but as things stand there is still no legally binding international framework for cuts in carbon emissions beyond 2012. That is the point at which the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end. The future of the Kyoto Protocol has been a major sticking point for years, and was again at these talks. The final outcomes are a Green Climate Fund being instated, the Kyoto Protocol having a second commitment period and there being a road-map to a new legal binding treaty from 2015.


This year marked a great year for the youth climate movement as we were boosted with a permanent observer seat at the UNFCCC under the YOUNGO (Youth NGOs). What has been the most important and exciting news from the conference has been the involvement of youth. There is a story of hope from Durban—it’s the story of the youth and their allies who refused to remain silent, and who will stand up every day and everywhere and show the bravery we saw in South Africa. That’s how we’ll win this fight–and that’s the progress we’re most proud of.