This is one of a series of on-the-ground updates from the ongoing COP climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa.

The 17th  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP17) opened in Durban today with a very strong statement on women by both the outgoing president of COP16, Ms. Patricia Espinosa, and current president of COP17 Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.  Both ladies mentioned women’s empowerment during their statements as key to helping family adapt to the changing climate and urged governments to support women’s efforts in safer climate initiatives.

Ms. Nkoana-Mashabane, who is also South Africa’s International Relations Minister, said world leaders had gathered because of the concerns of millions of people. She urged the leaders to be bold in their actions in agreeing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It was so inspiring when PAI was mentioned by the COP president, as she invited me to deliver the Youth Opening Statement during the Opening COP plenary.

This is what I said, and what I hope our leaders will consider this week during the negotiations:

The future cannot be discussed without youth. The future is ours. You can see that our patience has come to an end; we are willing to raise our voice even if it means taking us to the edge.

We do not want Durban to be a burying ground for the Kyoto Protocol. The renewal of commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in Durban is crucial as Africa and other vulnerable countries’ future depends on it. Everyone in this hall must collaborate to create solutions. As we travelled by road from Nairobi to Durban we collected petitions requesting you to act fast.

We believe that the Conference of Parties has come of age. We are no longer in the childhood stages of determining solutions to climate change. The time of maturity has arrived.   Some of you here have shown leadership while others have blocked progress. We ask you to negotiate with open doors filled with compassion, integrity and justice. We ask you to show the world the leadership you have been entrusted with .

Thank you.