I had the honor of representing Kazakhstan at the 17th United Nations Youth Conference on Climate Change (COY17), held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where young people from all over the world united with one goal: to make the planet a better place. for all of us.
From November 2-4, young changemakers from 140 countries came together to exchange ideas and share their experiences on how they are working on this issue in their countries and communities to save the Earth.
Young people are the future agents of change. Therefore, the COY17 conference enhanced the capacity building of young people. They learned about green economy and waste management, water scarcity, global food security and renewable energy. They also learned from representatives of international organizations how to involve young people in climate action.
In addition, the conference allowed participants to enter a multinational environment through cross-cultural exchange, thus creating an open space for expressing ideas and discussing culture. We have seen that the world becomes smaller and more comfortable when we come together peacefully and discuss what is essential for young people who demand actions, not promises or words.
The biggest impression of the conference was getting to know like-minded people around the world and realizing that you are not alone on the path to solving global problems. People exchanged ideas and discussed possible ways to collaborate for a sustainable future. He longs to learn more about the different student and youth organizations for climate action in other countries. Some have built an educational platform, and others have engaged young people through social media.
As a content creator and digital community builder, I strive to educate young people in Central Asia by presenting important topics, public lectures and materials. I am inspired to take action, teach others and involve young people in building a better future for each other.
Why should Kazakh youth engage in climate action?
Young people have endless potential to create innovative solutions that may not be a priority for their authorities. Young people are therefore the first actors of change in the construction of a sustainable future, because they are the ones who will make the companies of tomorrow and who will hold positions of responsibility.
Building a sustainable future must begin with education and awareness of the challenges facing our region and the world. But, first, we must work to educate a conscious youth and give young people the right values. Ecology courses should be introduced into the school curriculum, or at least special sessions should be offered to all school and university students.
As an academic nomad having lived in several Western countries, including Glasgow, Scotland, where COP26 took place last year, and Scandinavian countries, I have come to believe that teaching habits contribute to activities people’s daily lives and their relationship with our planet. But this is not necessarily limited to the actions of individuals but also the political will of the government to solve the problem and work towards sustainability. Young people must therefore also reach out to local authorities to make their voices heard and call for concrete action.
To meet their needs, we need more representatives from women and rural areas, the most affected by climate problems. We must recognize that climate change will affect every person’s life, and it may be too late if we don’t give it the importance it deserves.
Alone we can make a difference, but only together we can change the world.
The text of youth declaration can be found here.
The author is Ayaulym Sarybayeva, a 23-year-old student on the Erasmus Mundus International Joint Masters Program in Southern European Studies in the UK, Spain and France. His main field of study is politics and society in Southern Europe, the Arab world and the Mediterranean.