Youth Will (Must) Save The Day: United Nations COP26 Youth Marathon
Most every year since 1995, the world’s nations have been meeting to discuss our global climate crisis at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP). This year’s session is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, as the United Kingdom hosts the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) until November 12th. And, as part of this year’s event, I was honored to moderate the North America portion of the United Nations Climate & Oceans COP26 24 Hour Youth Marathon this past Saturday.
The Youth Marathon was a day-long event that included three groups of different sessions across three time zones. It was also an incredible opportunity to watch the world’s youth shine as we focused on what I believe is the most important issue today’s young people will face in their lives here on earth.
Satellite events like the one I moderated are intertwined with the more public events that you see covered in the mass media where many world leaders (this year including the United State’s President Joe Biden) give speeches and perform other ceremonial type tasks. At its core, the key focus of the COP meetings is to monitor and shape the status of climate oriented policies being taken around the world to reduce carbon pollution, as well as to review the emission inventories submitted by Parties (the various nations). This information is then used to assess and measure the progress the Parties are making in support of the Convention’s goals. COP21, for example, took place in Paris and it’s not uncommon to hear mention of the “Paris Agreement” which relates to the goals the various nations set at that conference in 2015. Chances are good that you will hear about various Glasgow Agreements in the weeks and years to come that sprout from this month’s meetings (I sure hope that’s the case).
An important element of this year’s event, COP26, is strengthening society’s ability to adapt to climate change impacts globally, as well as mobilizing financing and implementing solutions that have been outlined in previous COP conferences. As our climate change crisis worsens by the day due to man’s use of fossil fuels, it is ever important that every country in the world comes together to help each other in such dire times of need. As I’ve said before, climate change will ultimately impact every aspect of society, every country on our planet, and as such it is imperative that we all come together as a global community and unify in prioritizing and solving what I believe to be the greatest challenge today’s youth will ever face. And that’s what these COP meetings strive to accomplish.
Our North American session hosted two venerated speakers, the esteemed Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and Emily De Sousa, who spoke to a global audience.
Dr. Hayhoe taught our attendees about the importance of statistics in climate science and her research as Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy and political science professor at Texas Tech University. Her research focuses on establishing a scientific basis for assessing the regional to local-scale impacts of climate change on human systems and the natural environment.
Emily De Sousa taught our patrons how to effectively communicate with, write to, political leaders. Emily just finished her masters degree and has extensive experience working with politicians to implement sustainable solutions.
Allow me to thank Dr. Hayhoe and Ms. De Sousa for their incredible work and passion. And speaking of passion, allow me to also thank the United Nations Association; acclaimed Gonzalo Alvarez, United Nations Marine Biologist and Oceanographer; and Hannah Glowacki and Karl Birkholtz, UNA Youth Council Members, for helping to organize and support this important event.
But mostly, allow me to thank the world’s youth for participating in the event and being so dedicated to helping make our planet better and cleaning up our climate mess. As your Moderator it was simply amazing to watch the world’s youth illustrate such leadership and fortitude on such an important, ominous topic.
When it comes to our global climate crisis, you, my friends, the world’s youth, will save mankind from its polluting past. This week’s Youth Marathon made that clear yet again, and I am deeply proud of each attendee’s commitment and relentless passion.