On the 14th December 2021 the European parliament approved the proposal of putting youth at the center of the activities for 2022, which has been officially nominated the European Year of Youth.
Just few months before, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and the City of Milan, via the European funded project FoodWave organized the event “Empowering youth for climate action” with an objective which, in this new year, has become an invitation from the European Commission for all stakeholders in every field: to create a platform for exchange between young activists and decision makers, to share ideas and discuss actionable solutions.
In particular, the session looked at how youth can be a resource to tackle climate change at the local level and took place in the framework of the All4Climate programme, with the aim to contribute to the climate debate at the Pre-COP meetings taking place in Milan first and following negotiations of COP26 – the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference – which took place last November 2021 in Glasgow.
Indeed, new research showed that a child born in 2020 will endure an average of 30 extreme heatwaves in their lifetime – that is seven times more heatwaves than someone born in 1960. Today’s children will also grow up to experience twice as many droughts and wildfires and three times more river floods and crop failures than someone who is 60 years old today. It is clear that the dramatic effects of climate change will affect increasingly the daily life of communities across the world and will demand effective solutions. Many of these prompt responses will have to be delivered at the local level, where communities live and access services: including access to energy, to water, but also to green spaces, affordable housing and mobility. As the areas in which most people live and work, and as the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, cities and local governments are increasingly acknowledged as the arena in which solutions to major societal and environmental challenges must be developed and implemented.
During the event six young activists shared their concrete proposals for immediate action with the audience and with nine policy-makers from Europe, UK and Brazil who participated in the panel. Through three rounds of discussion, the activists – selected by Food Wave and ICLEI through an open call for opportunities – confronted themselves with policy makers on how to accelerate the implementation of sustainable food systems, how to secure a fair ecological transition and how to increase youth participation in climate policy and decision decision-making.
We hope that “Empowering youth for climate action” was a little drop which contributed to pave the way toward a more systematic engagement of young people in the local climate action and beyond. With a new, promising year ahead, we can’t wait for the next opportunity to bring this forward together ! Listen to the young activists pitches and the responses from policy makers and watch here the full recording of the event; here below you can also find a list of useful resources shared by the speakers in the framework of the roundtable: