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November 29, 2011

Conference of Youth Builds Energy for COP17 Negotiations

Cross-posted from the Sierra Student Coalition blog

Written by: Adriana Gonzalez
Edited by: Angela Wiley

When I walked off the plane in the Durban airport on Friday, November 25th, I felt that the ground was shaking. It was no earthquake but maybe the lack of sleep or the 30 hours of traveling. We got our bags, got some electrical converters and hopped on an airport shuttle. The travel from the airport to Durban's city center gave me a scope of the vastness, diversity and beautiful landscape of South Africa.

Once we arrived at the hostel and set our luggage down, we left for the Conference of Youth (COY). This annual conference organized by global youth strives to share stories, strategies and promote networking within the international youth movement. The first day, although I was tired from the traveling, I got to participate in an intermediate workshop that explained the process of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). This was a great opportunity to visually understand the UNFCCC process. I also gained a better understanding on how the Kyoto Protocol and other processes are entwined in the Conference of the Parties (COP) process which I am currently attending.  

The rest of the first day COY was a bit of blur cause my jet lag was getting to me. The next day it was a bright Saturday and we arrived early to the COY. We got in a very crowded auditorium buzzing with energy. There was about 300 youth from all over the world. What in the world could be more powerful?

(Youth attending COY created a joint vision by drawing images of what they hope to see in the world)

As we sat on the auditorium floor we listened to a group of African youth talk about their journey to COP 17 in Durban. As a part of a campaign called "We Have Faith" , a group of about a hundred youth drove in caravan from Nairobi to Durban. They were collecting petitions directed to the world leaders demanding them to be honest and committed to treating the Earth and people with respect at the climate summit in Durban. They had to drive through deserts, rivers and camp all their way to Durban.

They did this journey in the name of climate justice and to encourage all of Africa to have faith and create the change. At the end of their presentation they chanted a song with their motto, "we have faith".  It was truly inspiring to see people that are willing to travel great distances and commit to creating a change. Their positive message of having faith is inspiring people in all Africa and in the world. Check out this video of the awesome caravan.

As if hearing about the caravan was not inspiring enough we then heard a presentation about the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. They are celebrating a huge campaign victory as they helped passed a charge on carbon emotions, but this video explains pretty well how they did that.


(SSCers meet with delegates of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition at the 7th annual Conference of Youth)

The Conference of Youth was a truly amazing, this was my second year participating and it still was a refreshing and inspiring event. We had the opportunity to not only listen to the other youth’s stories but share our own.   In addition, we started to develop ideas for long term relations with international youth groups. We underline the importance of this event because as the SSC we know that to create real change and build a diverse and just movement we must work  with everyone. 

We are all exited to represent the  SSC delegation in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. If you want to support us even further, be part of our ground support network.


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