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Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way
WEB MAGAZINE - November 2018

Allow young people into the corridors of power!

On the first day of COP24, 3 December 2018, the entire programme at the Nordic Pavilion is dedicated to youth empowerment, climate and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Nordic Council of Ministers emphasises involving and being inspired by youth when addressing climate change and solving the challenges of the future. This is aptly reflected in the Nordic Agenda 2030 Programme, which is simply called Generation 2030.

“Young people today grow up learning about the climate challenges that our world is facing, which will indeed determine our future,” says Henrietta Flodell, Swedish Youth Delegate to the UN. “It’s our future that’s at stake, but we’re still not given access to the corridors of power to help bring about change. It’s frustrating to see the mismatch between what we know and what’s reflected in global politics.”

According to Flodell and fellow UN Youth Delegate Lotta Velin, studies from the Nordic countries show that young people are more interested than the general population in the issues of climate change and the transition needed to achieve sustainable development.

“We have high ambitions that would help decision-makers raise the bar,” says Velin. She explains that if everybody consumed as much as the average Nordic consumer today, it would take four planets to sustain global consumption. “As advanced and affluent countries, it’s crucial that we change our consumption patterns and take the lead in international climate negotiations.”

Mobilising and motivating young people

The COP24 Youth Day at the Nordic Pavilion is organised by the Nordic Council of Ministers and various youth organisations committed to mobilising young people in the battle against climate change.

“We want to use this opportunity to draw attention to the importance of involving young people in climate issues,” says Jeppe Willads Petersen, Danish youth representative in NORDBUK, the Nordic Committee for Children and Young People. “We’ll be sharing stories and discussing the ways in which to mobilise young people and motivate them to take action on tackling climate change.”

The youth climate network, ReGeneration 2030, has grown exponentially since it was started in 2017, with more than 100 people participating in the first ReGeneration 2030 summit this summer. The aim is to involve young people in the Nordic and Baltic Sea Regions in sustainable development, thinking bigger to achieve greater results. The network is staging an event at the Nordic Pavilion, focusing on SDG12, sustainable production and consumption patterns, and SDG13, which calls for urgent action to combat climate change.

“Young people are frequently invited to meetings and conferences to provide the youth perspective, but more often than not, it’s merely a symbolic gesture,” says ReGeneration 2030 coordinator Hanna Salmén. “We’d like to see a more profound engagement, where young people are given real influence.”

Conversations across cultures

“Youth organisations like ours are in a position to initiate a different conversation because we can engage in a dialogue across borders and cultures without being restrained by national interests and policies,” says Pétur Halldórsson, President of the Icelandic Youth Environmentalist Association and one of the people behind the Arctic Youth Network. Originating from the Arctic, the network now has members from 27 countries around the world.

“The issues of the Arctic concern us all,” says Halldórsson. “There’s no such thing as closed systems when it comes to climate change. Arctic Youth Network therefore works toward cultural equality by giving young people and indigenous people everywhere a voice on climate change and sustainable development.

“You cannot make global climate policies without involving all these groups, people from different areas and with different cultural backgrounds. That’s our main message at COP24.”

See the full programme for the Nordic Youth Day at COP24 here.


Photo 1: Tom Barrett / Unsplash

Photo 2: Chris Slupski / Unsplash