Reclaiming our future: UK Youth at the UN climate talks

23rd November 2011 by

Our friends at the UK Youth Climate Coalition are heading to Durban for the crucial climate talks about to start there. They’ll be making sure that the politicians and bureaucrats hear the voice of youth – and of future generations. This is the first of a series of guest blogs by the UKYCC which we’ll be publishing, as they keep us up to date on progress at the talks. Thanks for your hard work and dedications, guys.

It’s that time of year again, when diplomats and negotiators, in iron-clad grey suits come face to face with young people who are ready to flashdance and cheerlead their way to the future.

Those two things might seem worlds apart, but in just a few days in Durban, South Africa, the UK youth delegation from the UK Youth Climate Coalition will join with other young people from across the world for the United Nations annual climate talks.

The countries of the world come together once a year to try to formulate a plan that will reduce emissions and prepare for inevitable changes to our climate. That meeting is called the Conference of the Parties, and its 17th annual meeting is about to start.

We believe that young people are the ones who truly have the overwhelming passion and energy to show that, despite the lack of success these talks have had during our lifetimes, we want the most ambitious solution possible to climate change.

And the reason we’re so strong as a group is because we all have our own individual experience. The climate negotiations are crucial to solving climate change, but they are not the be all and end all. We’re all involved in a huge variety of projects around climate change and empowering young people in our local communities, and that’s where our strength and energy come from.

Youth are not the bystanders in this process, we are the ones who will be dealing with the consequences of these decisions for decades to come. And what’s more, progress, or lack of it, has impacts for every young person back on the streets of the UK. Progress towards a low-carbon, clean future, would provide new opportunities for growth and jobs. Politicians and diplomats are bargaining and procrastinating over our future.

And don’t be beguiled by our facepaint, silly costumes, propensity to dance and sing and wear colourful clothes. We’ve also spent the year fundraising hard and in particular learning about climate change policy. Behind our sunglasses and flowery shirts, we’re armed with the tools to have conversations with negotiators on their level.

What’s more, we hope to communicate what’s going on in these talks back to young people in the UK and that they will get in touch with us. Every young person has a stake in this process and we want to make sure that they know what’s being decided in their name, about their futures.

And we’re also excited to link up with the hundreds of young people from all over the world who scrimp and save to come to South Africa, who study detailed policy, who plan creative actions to open politicians’ eyes. We want to help shape the efforts needed and decisions taken to tackle climate change for the lives of all young people.

Find our blogs at, follow us @ukyccdelegation and email us your thoughts and hopes for a clean, safe future –

Youth Delegation to the UN Climate Talks, UK Youth Climate Coalition

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