This past week, approximately 300 youths and representatives from over 20 countries around the world came to Geneva for Earth Focus’ “Global Youth Conference” on climate change and sustainable development.There, speakers from numerous environmental organizations like Green Cross International, the World Wide Fund for Nature and Greenpeace addressed the attendees on a wide range of subjects, including nuclear & renewable energies, sustainable development, and the upcoming climate change conference in Cancun this November.
It is Earth Focus’ belief that educating and recognizing young people as advocates for the environment is crucial to climate action success. This conference focused on giving these young people the information and opportunities to make full use of their potential. Earth Focus also acknowledged the importance of having student representatives from developing nations, as those nations will face the largest impact from climate change. Their experiences and concerns not only provided perspective for their peers but also were essential to demonstrating to national leaders the importance of every nation’s future.
While this conference offered students the opportunity to hear from a number of professional experts, it also provided the opportunity for students from institutions like the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, the Koç School, located in Turkey, and the Collège André Chavanne to present and debate on various topics. For example, on the third day of the conference, students from a number of schools prepared positions for a debate on the effects of palm oil production on the ecosystem. This provided students the opportunity to learn from and spread awareness to their peers concerning an important issue in today’s environment.
Green Cross International’s Adam Koniuszewski spoke to the attendees during the Monday and Tuesday sessions of the conference. During these talks, he discussed the role of Green Cross International as an advocate for climate change and sustainable development, and spoke at length concerning the steps that have been taken to rid the world of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, in addition to highlighting what work is still to come. After his talk on Tuesday, Adam and Dr. Rudolf Rechsteiner, of Greenpeace, answered questions from those in attendance for about 45 minutes on the subject of nuclear, clean, and renewable energies.
On the final day of the conference, students were put in small groups and asked to pull from the discussions, presentations and debates of the last four days a number of proposals to be put on a proposal, which was then delivered to members of the UN, ITU, UNFCCC, UNEP. WMO, and the WTO to voice the views and requests of today’s youth.
The final proposal asked for a number of items concerning accessibility to the Cancun Protocol, the creation of a Bill of Rights for the Environment, support and recognition of farmers and foresters, and a few other items concerning behavior awareness, energy sources and a world tax system on carbon. It is the hope that the views of concerned youth will be considered in the wake of the Cancun Climate Summit.