With the world’s eyes set on Glasgow as the COP26 opening ceremony began many may have missed, or not even been aware of COY16. More worrying is the fact that with this mind, many will not even know what happened at COY16. However, we’ve got you covered. We will recap and review the events that took place at this important conference in the lead up to COP26. If you were at COY16 we’d love to hear from you! Leave a message in the comments below!
What is COY and COY16?
COY stands for Conference of Youth. It sits underneath YOUNGO ( The Official Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The conference provides a space for young people to enhance their capacity building and policy training skills. There are three different versions of COY, namely:
- Global COY
- Virtual COY
- Regional COY
The conference is in its 16th edition, hence – COY16. It’s the global iteration of the event. It took place between 28th – 31st October 2021 in Glasgow, ahead of the COP26 event.
COY16 featured young people form over 140 countries. They came together to produce the major outcome of the conference – The Global Youth Statement. The statement is then delivered to leaders at COP26 allowing youth to be part of the ongoing discussions.
What Happened at COY16?
COY16 was a great event. However, important steps were occurring before the event began. Unlike the organisers of COP26 who faced criticism for partnering with firms linked to deforestation, COY16 ended it’s partnership with Aker Horizons due to a number of calls for it to do so by youth groups, with the firm being linked to fossil fuels.
The opening ceremony of COY16 featured an address by First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. After welcoming participants to Glasgow and Scotland, FM Sturgeon declared COY16 “the most important event of COP26”. She also admitted that today’s leaders are not doing enough and that they must now begin to do the right things including:
- Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees
- Committing to the finance that’s needed for the developing world to help repair the loss and damage already suffered by climate change
- Stopping the destruction of the natural environment
FM Sturgeon also requested that attendees and the youth more generally hold herself and other world leaders to account in tackling the climate crisis. Her full address can be viewed below:
The opening ceremony was followed by two days of superb events that were livestreamed through the COY16 online platform (Virtual COY). Some events were also streamed on YouTube and are still available to view today:
- COY16 Event – the Green Pathway: Climate finance for a sustainable world
- COY16 Workshop Youth Climate Action Reporting / ACE Challenges Mapping, Glasgow/UK
A copy of the different events across the two days can be seen below.
COY16 Closing Ceremony
All of the work of the COY16 is channelled into an important policy document that represents the voices of the youth. That document is then presented to COP26 leaders. The Global Youth Statement is presented in this manner at the closing ceremony of the event.
The closing ceremony was attended by Lord Provost of Glasgow, Lord Philip Braat, UK Lead Climate Negotiator, Archie Young, President of COP26, Alok Sharma and Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa C.. It also featured a video message from Antonio Guterres.
It also featured Alice from Association Jiboana alongside four other Indigenous colleagues to be here to propose means to preserve our future! Alice spoke, saying:
“We are united today to effect concrete action to protect the planet! COP is a historical moment, where we as the youth from all over the world have the key in our hand and a unique opportunity of reflection to unite all communities.”
Alok Sharma then took to the stage. However, the COP26 President was met with heckles from some youth activists over the Cambo oil field. After his speech, the Global Youth Statement was handed to him.
After the video from the UN Secretary General, Patricia Espinosa took to the stage:
“We really are at a pivotal point in history, the decisions we take now will determine our fate as a species on this planet. How many generations have the chance to change the course of history? …Yours does.”
A copy of the Global Youth Statement was then passed to her before the event formally came to a close.
A Twitter thread live Tweeting the event is available on the COY16 Twitter feed.
The Global Youth Statement
Copies of the Global Youth Statement were handed to Alok Sharma and Patricia Espinosa at the closing ceremony of COY16. The statement is the result of two long days of hard work from the attendees. As Alice said:
“We have worked tireless hours Monday – Sunday on this statement, and demand politicians to do the same…in order to drive change and move forward in the systemic justice that is needed…”
The Global Youth Statement is an incredible 78 page document. It includes the top policy demands that have been worked on across the events. The demands are centred around the following themes:
- Politics and Policy Making
- Underrepresented Groups
- Climate Finance and Markets
- Loss and Damage
- Food and Agriculture
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Mobility and Transportation
- Climate Justice and Human Rights
- Sustainable Consumption and Production
- Water, Sanitation and Oceans
- Wildlife and Environment Conservation
- Technology Transfer and Innovation
- Arts, Culture and Heritage
The full document can be downloaded and read from here: The Global Youth Statement
If this is what the youth can achieve in a few days, all eyes will be on the World Leaders to see what they can achieve in two weeks, with much larger resources at their disposal. You can catch up with all of the latest COY16 and COP26 news in our COP26 Hub.
Did you attend COY16? If so, let us know your feedback in the comments below!