COP23 took place in 2017. This peculiar edition was organized by the Republic of Fiji, island country in Melanesia, but was hosted in Bonn, Germany, for practical reasons.
Key topics of the edition were in fact island states, which are the ones that are more strongly feeling the effects of climate change today and will probably experience the strongest impacts in the future.
For young people present in Bonn, it was a question of defending an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement. Indeed, while the text is rather general, in 2017 it was a question of converting words into deeds. The States were therefore working to establish precise rules for implementing the Paris Agreement in a document called the “Paris Rulebook”.
We’ve asked Anaïs, both board member of SYFC and observer at COP23, about her experience in Bonn: “It’s important that youth pressure the government to take climate action because today's youth is the last generation to be able to take action against climate change. We are in a situation of climate emergency and loss of biodiversity and habitats and we must react now because we are directly dependent on these ecosystems that are collapsing because of our activities. This battle is not just for some environmental activists but for everyone.”
Anaïs Campion, SYFC delegate at COP23, discussed the issue with Ronny Jumeau, permanent representative to the UN and Ambassador for Climate Change of the archipelago Republic of Seychelles (See the complete article here). When, unfortunately, some heads of state backed down and jeopardized joint efforts against climate change, Ronny Jumeau and other delegations from island countries were pushing for concrete action and the youth involvement: “We are hopefully training the next generation of negotiators. They benefit from my experience and my knowledge in order to become better negotiators than I am. When I look at you, I see me, yesterday. When I look at you, I see hopefully a better version of me, tomorrow. Therefore, I have an interest in empowering you! This is not only the case for the young people from Seychelles; I count on all young citizens to hopefully influence the decisions of their country. Climate change is not fun, but there is a lot of positivity in climate action. However, now the part of COP23 where the negotiations are taking place looks rather like the inaction zone. We agreed on a text (the Paris Agreement), and now we disagree on its implementation. Before, we disagreed on what we will implement – now we disagree on how to do it. At least we have started the action part. ”
About his expectation of the youth from the western world in terms of climate action: “You should reach to your country’s climate ministers. Young people from big countries here at COP23 should be going back home and tell the board of their University: "Why don't you divest from fossil fuels? People have asked me in the past: "Are you angry at the West?" There are days I am, and they are days I am not, because this is a negotiation. But there are things that are not understandable. India, for example, is trying to lift people out of poverty. Since there are 400 million people who don't have access to electricity, they burn coal. But why do you have to burn coal to get electricity?”