YOUNGO, as the official children and youth constituency of UNFCCC, runs various formats of Conference of Youth (COY) to empower youth and formally bring their voices to the UNFCCC processes to shape the intergovernmental climate change policies. To strive for universal accessibility, true inclusion, and diversity, YOUNGO’s events range from global (GCOY) via virtual (vCOY) to regional/local (RCOY/ LCOY) incorporating the four major components of (1) Policy Document, (2) Capacity Building, (3) Skill-building Workshops, and (4) Cultural Exchange. The Global COY is the biggest and most substantial youth conference related to multilateral UN Climate processes, as the official gathering of YOUNGO members and interested youth groups happened a couple of days before the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) at the same location. Local COYs are organized prior to the GCOY across the world gathering more inputs, such as an exchange of current research and climate action opportunities, from the ground to discuss and develop respective outputs which feed into national and regional climate policy making, as well into GCOY, and consequently into the climate negotiations.
The first LCOY Germany took place in Heidelberg in 2019. This year, four GCE students attended the 5th edition in Lüneburg from October 28th to 30th. The three days in Northern Germany included many experts, inspiring workshops, exciting discussions, concentrated knowledge, and lots of fun! This year’s LCOY at Leuphana University of Lüneburg presented a variety of climate-related topics (e.g., COP27 & climate international, Connect & create, Climate Science, Culture & Society, Politics up close, Skill building, Economy, Market of Opportunities) in diverse ways and through a wide range of formats such as panel discussions, simulation games, discussion rounds, lectures, workshops, keynotes and a diverse supporting programme, so that there was really something for everyone. Organised by a team of volunteers all under the age of 28 years, the conference was fully funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment covering expenses on breakfast, lunch, dinner as well as accommodation for all participants. The conference was framed by a musical, artistic, playful programme with, among other things, (science) poetry slams, DJ, live band, movie night, jam sessions, improv theatre, power point karaoke, various community games, and bedtime stories.
The participants were free to choose from the diverse programme without registering for the single items. The conference mobile app was very helpful to keep an overview, although there were often so many interesting things offered at the same time that the decision was not always easy. After participating, we – the GCE students that attended the conference – were very enthusiastic and agreed that those days in Lüneburg created a hopeful perspective facing the climate crisis due to seeing and meeting the large number of young, interested, motivated, informed, and like-minded people. One key takeaway is the huge amount of knowledge that already exists, which should be shared openly, be used, and be translated into joint actions. Furthermore, the panel discussions, where representatives from different backgrounds (e.g., entrepreneurs, politicians, scientists, or activists) argued authentically, were very inspiring. In addition, we learned a lot through the skill building workshops that provided us methods on how to communicate the climate crisis properly or engaging tools that were already useful for the first meeting of the newly initiated GCE Hub*. Unfortunately, most programme items are held in German language (except from contributions such as “WTF – Where is the finance? Adaptation to climate change, the failure(s) of the Global North and other problems” or the panel discussion including the Egyptian and British embassy “Road from Glasgow to Sharm-el-Sheikh”) which might make attending the conference unattractive for non-German speaking students.
All in all, we would highly recommend attending future LCOYs to anyone who would like to get ready to participate in a COP, exchange ideas on climate-related issues and potential actions, broaden their knowledge of current climate science, meet relevant stakeholders from politics, economy, NGOs, and research, spend an inspiring and fun weekend in a new environment, or connect with other young, inspiring people who want to change the world for the better!
|* The GCE Hub|
What is this initiative about?
Our master goes by ticking modules with a lot of new knowledge that is often overwhelming and therefore not assimilated or used to create the transformative change we are all looking for. Therefore, we see the need of creating an informal space of exchange of thoughts which tries to build the bridge between the study programme, the “outside world” and ourselves – thus the HUB. Exchanging perspectives between diverse people like we have in our study programme is key in times of transformation and should not be forgotten because of assignments and tasks that are required by the lectures and seminars.
What is the goal?
A hub where we can think together, share ideas that inspire, exchange feelings, overwhelming moments, and challenges, but also where we can empower each other and reflect on our role in a transformative change. All under the motto “Conversations spark Ideas”. The hub is a space where everyone gets a room and people also listen.
What is the format?
In the format of a coffee break, we want to use one hour every two weeks to get together with all GCE students that are interested. It’s a freely offered idea, no need to participate all the time, but we would be happy if students come and are interested.