|During the second week WAGGGS has introduced for the first time the option for youth delegates to engage in hands-on community action in the host country. So four of the nine remaining youth delegates set off every day to run actions in the climate village, plant trees with local school groups, clean beaches and run non-formal education exercises with local kids and with the Mexican Scouts.|
The four delegates carrying out community service projects in Cancún left very early in the morning from our base - going to Playa del Carmen, a community situated approximately one hour and twenty minutes from the World Youth Hostel.
The first thing we did was attend a brief press conference where we met with Felix Finkbeiner, a 13 year-old boy from Germany.
Felix Finkbeiner is the creator of the Plant for the Planet project which came about 4 years ago. While he was at school he was given a task on climate change. Following his research and on seeing images of climate change and its effects, he decided to present to his class a proposal to plant one million trees around the world, one million in every country. This is how the organization was born, where children from around the world plant trees as a symbol of climate balance. At present Felix is fronting a campaign called “Stop Talking, Start Planting” which consists of bringing the issue to the attention of policy makers so they can stop talking and start acting.
We then went to the Town Hall where we were presented to the Mayor of the town and staff. We then made a presentation on the Plant for the Planet initiative. We had the opportunity to speak about WAGGGS and how we are working on the theme of the Environment and what we are doing in COP16.
When the presentation was over, we attended a radio interview and as representatives of WAGGGS we were given the opportunity to speak about GG/GS at world level and how we are focused on tackling climate change and how we are running projects and programmes on environmental issues.
As it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we were taken to a park where we were met by two local Scout groups. We were able to share our projects and at the same time encourage them to develop their own environmental activities and to join in the “Plant for the Planet” campaign. Two trees were then planted.
It is important to note that even if we didn’t plant a huge quantity of trees, we have learned a lot from Felix. He has repeated many times in interviews that we are not doing enough to diminish the effects of climate change which is why he is challenging all the young people of the world to take responsibility for the future of humanity – which is at risk of extinction.
Victoria Vega, Costa Rica
Other news from COP 16
Memorandum of Understanding with UNEP signed
Satinder Bindra, Director of the Division of Communication and Public Information of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) signed the Memorandum of Understanding with WAGGGS during COP16. Mr Bindra was very impressed about the WAGGGS youth delegates and their lobbying successes regarding Climate Change education.
This is a great moment for WAGGGS as this partnership agreement on projects and campaigns such as Seal the deal, paint for the planet and TUNZA, has been many years in the making. Our UN team in Nairobi deserves great praise for preparing the path to this success
The girls and young women working group
Apart from the lobbying work which has been taking place on Article 6 about climate change education, another section of the WAGGGS delegation has been focusing on the formation of a girls and young women working group within the youth constituency. This group has been working to see that the voice of girls and young women is heard at COP and considered in the negotiations, as they are one of the most vulnerable groups.
Climate change impacts upon girls and young women in many ways. Over 70 per cent of the world’s hungriest people are women and climate change will threaten the availability of food, meaning that more girls and young women will go hungry. As the impacts of climate change increase so will the distances girls and young women need to walk to collect water and firewood. When climate induced natural disasters occur women and children are at a much greater risk than men, due to a lack of mobility and education about natural disaster safety and survival. For example in a cyclone in Bangladesh over 90 per cent of deaths were women and children.
Our group has been working very hard over the last two weeks, holding meetings with our policy working group almost everyday which includes a number of young men and women from other youth organizations who are dedicated and passionate about getting the voice of girls and young women heard on the issue of climate change. We have been attending the women and gender caucus each morning. We have also been examining the text and seeing where our lobbying efforts can most be of use as well as meeting with a number of important and inspiring women who have been giving us advice on where we as young people can be of most influence and impact in the negotiating process.
Today was exciting in that it was the first real advocacy action of our working group! Four of us headed over to Moon Palace (where the important negotiations are taking place) and conducted conversations with negotiators as they left the negotiating room about climate justice and the inclusion of girls and young women in the section of the convention which was being discussed, the ‘shared visions’. We wanted to find out more about the negotiations which had taken place as well as whether there was any mention of gender and youth in the text which had been decided upon in the negotiations. Many of the negotiators were very receptive, answering our questions and showing an interest in our concerns and mission as WAGGGS.
While we still do not know whether our concerns have been acknowledged in the final document as it still being negotiated as we speak, we have been doing our best to ensure that the voice of our 10 million members are being heard here at COP.
Browyn Hughes, Australia