The UAE is leading an initiative to put youth at the forefront of the fight against climate change. The country will fund the attendance of 100 international youth delegates to the crucial Cop28 climate summit in Dubai. It will prioritise those from the world's least developed countries, small island developing states, indigenous peoples, and other minority groups.
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and President-designate of Cop28, unveiled the drive on Wednesday at Expo City Dubai, where he addressed climate activists, determined individuals, foreign dignitaries, and business leaders at Al Wasl Plaza.
"I am delighted to announce the International Youth Climate Delegate Programme for Cop28," said Dr Al Jaber, whose role it is to guide and shape the critical talks.
"This initiative will give a special focus to least developed countries and small island states. "It will also provide all participants with training, resources, and the opportunity to advocate on behalf of their countries and communities," he added.
"We may not know what the future holds, but we do know who does. It is you, our children."
Creating Change, The initiative will be led by the Cop28 Youth Climate Champion team in collaboration with Youngo, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's youth arm. Its goal is to ensure that youth perspectives are at the centre of global policymaking and to serve as a role model for future Cops.
Those who make the cut will have a front-row seat to climate negotiations, a better understanding of the Cop process, and the opportunity to participate in the crucial talks. Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 35, show a commitment to climate issues, and ideally have prior experience in the field. The application period began on Wednesday and will end on April 7. Anyone interested in applying can do so at www.cop28.com.
"Everywhere I go, I make a point of meeting young people, and I'm always encouraged by what I hear," Dr. Al Jaber said.
"You want to be a part of it. You want to be a part of it. You want to make a contribution. You want to make an impact."
Dr Al Jaber also called on all parties of the UNFCCC to "include young people in your delegations and give them the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way".
It happened on the same day that the UAE officially fired the starting gun for the journey to Cop28. With only eight months until the key climate summit from November 30 to December 12, the day-long event at Expo City Dubai sought to build momentum.
The challenge to cut emissions was outlined in a conversation between Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development and Cop28 Youth Climate Champion; Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-level Champion; Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; and Shreya KC, a Nepalese representative for Youngo, the UNFCCC's official youth arm.
They also discussed how environmental protection measures are critical to the fight and how those most vulnerable to climate change must be heard at the summit.
Workshops and discussions, In keeping with the announcement, the event focused heavily on youth. Climate workshops for school children, youth debates on climate change, a sustainable marketplace, farming and cooking stations, and an intergenerational dialogue with senior citizens were all part of the event.
It drew participation from schools, universities, youth climate advocates, sustainable farmers, and other key players in order to galvanise action ahead of the critical climate talks.
"As future leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, and climate activists, your energy and youth will make a difference," Dr. Al Jaber told the Al Wasl Plaza audience.
"Learn everything you can about the climate crisis. Bring your passion, focus, and courage to the task of turning that challenge into an opportunity. You have the power to transform problems into opportunities. We rely on you to help us achieve real results. Let us join forces to connect minds and co-create a better future for all."
The Cop climate summit in Egypt last year resulted in the establishment of a loss and damage fund to assist developing countries in dealing with the consequences of climate change. However, questions about how it will operate and who will contribute to the fund will be addressed at Cop28.
The Dubai summit will also seek to accelerate progress on emissions reductions and increase funding for adaptation measures. It will also include what is known as a "global stocktake" for the first time. This will be the first assessment of global progress in addressing climate change since the Paris agreement in 2015.
All of these climate talks are laying the groundwork for a difficult summit beginning in November.