Thousands of young climate activists arrived in the week leading up to the COP to join the Global Youth Conference, the official gathering of youth members and the largest and most important youth conference related to the UN’s multilateral climate processes.
Four Generation17 Young Leaders attended COP27 and we asked two of them to share their thoughts and reflections. Shomy Chowdhury, Co-Founder of Awareness 360 from Bangladesh and AY Young from USA, Founder of Project 17.
Shumi was part of the Congress of Youth (COY) which is the premier space for Voices of Youth.
I participated in COY17 as a delegate from Bangladesh. As a member of the Youth Advisory Board for the Youth Organization for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), I have represented the organization and shared what we are doing during the Spotlights portion of the organization.
During the conference, I engaged with young people from around the world, to raise awareness about the importance of ending neglected tropical diseases for good and how they are intricately linked to the climate crisis. I was surprised to interact with young people who weren’t fully aware of NTDs and those who resonated with my message and shared that they didn’t feel we were talking enough about NTDs in important places like this. Many showed interest in joining this movement which gave me hope to meaningfully involve more youth in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.
Another highlight for me was interacting with the outstanding young people from around the world and observing their unending passion to save our planet. I appreciated learning more about the beautiful culture of Egypt, making new connections about local delicacies and conversations, and finding new avenues for partnerships after the conference. I loved how people from different backgrounds, champions for different causes, came together to share their unique experiences of suffering and best practices and showed how interconnected all the SDGs are.
However, I was also very disappointed by the poor management before and during the conference. COP has been historically unavailable to many young people. I saw how it was no different this time for many young people, from the accommodation to the language barrier. The use of plastic, lack of inclusivity and accessibility for people with disabilities, lack of time management, and appropriate communication regarding what was happening around the COY17 Global Youth Manifesto – are some of the room for improvement.
Despite these negatives, many positives came out of this important gathering. The COY17 Global Youth Manifesto was delivered during COP27, which represented some critical demands of youth. The inclusion of the first-ever Children and Youth Pavilion, the appointment of the COP27 Chair’s first Youth Envoy, and of course the historic agreement on the Loss and Damage Fund were worthy of celebration. However, when we look at the overall score, there are still many gray areas and some decisions made or not made, causing consternation.
AY Young performed and participated in dialogues during the two weeks of COP27 as part of his Battery Tour campaign to launch “Project17” worldwide.
The Children and Youth Pavilion was the best place to participate in COP27. The best energy, the most varied days. It felt like the center of change. Led by Saad Akkas, the pavilion exploded daily with art, speeches, and communication. One of the few booths gave me space for UNDP to perform songs from “Project17,” making one song for each of the SDGs.
Music is key to influence. Everything related to music, art or culture immediately felt better. After delving into painting after painting or talking after talking, music has always been healing.
People gravitate toward it. Arriving at COP27, I was scheduled to attend one show over the course of the entire two weeks. In the end, I was performing six shows a day.
Leaders like Nigel Topping and artists like Ellie Goulding stop by instilling hope with classic words and moments. Indigenous and African moments demonstrated diversity and inclusion.
I think a lot has to grow and improve on the young side of things. There needs to be more regulation. This movement needs more players than leaders. Guys who don’t mind getting their hands dirty and grabbing some rebounds. This is what this youth movement lacks. Until we become more organized and together, there will be no effect. My message to these hundreds of young voices and “leaders”. Find out what drives you, and then you’ll be a great contributor as a young leader. Not everyone needs to be a “leader”.
Overall, I am fortunate and humbled to be at COP27. Thankful for the opportunities for more projects as a young leader who can impact the SDGs. While I don’t have all the answers, if we all used our passion to take action every day to protect our world, we would all be better. If we can humble ourselves and put aside selfish desires. If we can be true agents of change connected to our passions by understanding our “why”. Together, we will do this!