On September 28, 2009 the international youth movement gained official constituency status. The provisional status took effect in November 2009 and will continue through to the first sessional period in 2011. A final decision on the status will be made in time for COP 17, based on the assessment of the work of this constituency in relation to the UNFCCC process.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) , which entered into force in March 1994, was a crucial step to fulfilling the aim to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, including the most important of them all, carbon dioxide. Although global in scope, the UNFCCC differentiated commitments of its Parties depending on their respective capabilities. 192 countries have acceded to the UNFCCC Climate Change Convention yet only 183 have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
What is a constituency:
Constituencies are functional groups within the UNFCCC framework. Constituencies are meant to represent certain stakeholder groups within the negotiations. However, constituency function for NGOs withing the framework is limited to observer status. The main objective of NGO constituencies are usually to facilitate communication between the parties, the secretariat and the groups within the constituency. YOUNGO is a constituency within the framework and is meant to represent all the Youth NGOs at the negotiations.
COP 15 in Copenhagen was deemed to be exceptionally significant as it was the deadline to when the agreement to the second commitment period for Kyoto Protocol was set to be signed. This target was set 2 years previously in COP13, Bali and was named the Bali Road Map.
Unfortunately the road map was not reached and an agreement not signed. Some of the key issues that could not be agreed on were emission reduction targets of Annex 1 against non-Annex 1 parties, financing and various adaptation and mitigation measures such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation & Degradation (REDD).
Some nations sidetracked from the process, drafted & subsequently proposed a new text as a means to overcome the deadlocks in the process. This document, called the Copenhagen Accord, was deemed grossly inadequate & also undemocratic as it sidelined the majority of the nations during the drafting of the text. The rejection meant that it was merely noted by the parties to the process and is not a legal text within the framework.
2010 & Mexico
The 16th Conference of Parties will be held in Mexico. Despite the failures in Copenhagen, the negotiations are ongoing. As the first commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol will only be ending on 2012, there is still time, though by standards of international negotiations that time is very short.
We all know what a massive undertaking it would be for our leaders to agree on a set of achievable, equitable and implementable goals for climate change. What can youth do to help? The truth is, we’re probably far more powerful together than any of us can imagine or could be individually! While we may not hold high office nor will we be sitting at the negotiation table, we can persuade and influence key decision-makers in government, business and media, galvanize public opinion and mobilize grassroots movements.
As a constituency within the UNFCCC framework we are accorded the following rights:
- we will be invited to (some of) the workshop taking place in between sessions,
- we will receive a speaking slot at the high level segment of the COPs,
- we will receive an office space at the COPs,
- we will have additional opportunities to make statements during the plenary,
- the secretariat will facilitate the logistics of our daily meetings (every day in same room, announced in the program and on CCTVs),
- we will have the opportunity to hold bilateral with the chairs of each official bodies (COP, SBI, SBSTA, AWGs),
- we will have an enhanced chance to hold bilateral with the chair of other groups such as expert groups and contact groups,
- Our participation to the Secretary General NGOs briefings will improve (particular right to ask specific questions).
In counterpart, we have the following obligations:
- We will need to designate a focal point
- We will need to manage information dissemination (secretariat to youth networks), and to keep these information channels updated,
- We will have to give a unique feedback to secretariat (youth networks to secretariat, such as nominations for participation to workshops…)
To get started, please sign up to our google groups mailing list at http://groups.google.com/group/unfccc_youth. Also, do visit here to see our full list of groups working on the different aspects of the negotiations such as policy, communications or actions.