Article / 05 Nov, 2017
Empowering Future Generations - Conference of the Youth 2017

Bonn, 04 November 2017 –Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23, 6-17 November), over 1300 young people gathered in Bonn to demand a bigger role of youth in national and international climate policy and to find ways to further mobilize young people for climate action.

The Conference of Youth (COY13) was set in a school in Bonn-Beuel. The main focus of this year’s COY (2-4 November), was on the role of education and capacity building to empower youth to tackle climate change, notably in support of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It was also an opportunity to showcase young people’s local initiatives on climate action and to strengthen youth networks.

Resonating with the topics and spirit of the COY, the COP23 President and Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, joined the event and praised the ambitious activities of youth around the world: “We need to learn with you. Learn how to do things in politics, in business and in our day-to-day life”, said the incoming COP President. He also promised the COY participants and organizers to carry the message to the world leaders during COP23.


Fijian Prime Minister inspires youth to take action 

Topics such as the perspectives of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), climate justice and the transition of societies into a low-carbon future were highlighted throughout the COY. This year’s slogan "Talanoa Mada - Youth Accelerating Climate Action", addressed Fiji’s presidency over the Conference of the Parties (COP) as it refers to the Fijian practice of an inclusive dialogue through unconstrained mutual storytelling

Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, spoke at the COY13 closing ceremony on Saturday, 4 November. She reiterated the UNFCCC’s support to the Conference of Youth as a bridge to all COP23 delegates. “We are committed to play our part. We have established new guidelines to promote more access for young people at this conference and at all our conferences moving forward. I am also personally dedicated to the youth agenda as a source of ideas and enthusiasm that can move communities and countries”, said Ms. Espinosa.

During the 3-day conference, there were more than 200 activities happening. The UNFCCC observer constituency of youth non-governmental organizations (YOUNGO), hosted a number of thematic working groups, which drafted detailed policy recommendations for the upcoming COP negotiations.

"COY13 brings together hundreds of young people from all around the world to learn and discuss about various topics of Climate Change and to develop solutions and ideas. It is the inherent meaning of building capacities and raising awareness for today and the future," said Julius Schlumberger, member of the German youth organization committee in charge of COY13.


 Participants showing the climate justice sign

Ms Espinosa was excited about meeting so many motivated, young climate activists. “Your presence and your voice is essential to the UN Climate Change process. Nations are working together to hand over a stable, secure world rich with opportunity to the next generation, so we must empower that generation to be part of the conversation”, said the head of UN Climate Change.

Youth at COP

Since 2005, the COY has been held every year, a few days before the COP and is organized by environmental youth organizations together with YOUNGO, in order to give youth a voice during the COP negotiations.

The outcomes of COY13 will be presented during the Young and Future Generations Day at the UN Climate Change Conference on 9 November. The UNFCCC promotes youth participation under its Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) programme, which relates to education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation.

You can find the schedule of ACE events during COP23 here:

  • Young and Future Generations day - 9 Nov 2017 (all day)
  • Intergenerational Inquiry “The highlight of the Young and Future Generations Day” - 9 Nov 2017 13:15-14:45, Meeting Room 2, Bonn zone
  • Education Day - 16 Nov 2017 (all day)
  • 2017 Global Youth Video Competition Award Ceremony - 16 Nov 2016 18:00 – 19:30, Media Events Room, Bonn zone
  • High level Event on Education: Uniting for Climate Education - 16 Nov 2017 11:30-13:00, Room 6, Bonn zone

Find out more about the COY13 and about the Young and Future Generations Day.