SKOPJE, 21 October 2021 – At a youth led national “Youth Climate Summit” in Skopje young people adopted a Youth Climate Declaration calling on decision makers to take specific action on climate and asking for more opportunities and space to drive climate solutions.
The Youth Climate Summit – a youth led initiative – was supported by UNICEF together with the Italian, Swedish and British Embassies in North Macedonia and organised after the global “Youth4Climate – Driving ambition” in Milan and ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) in Glasgow. It builds on the “Reimagine the Future” initiative of the Cabinet of President Pendarovski and UNICEF – a youth consultation initiative giving children and young people the space to engage in defining the vision they want for their future.
“The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC clearly indicates that we are already living in the last decade in which we can influence the global warming process. However, to do that, it is necessary to quickly and radically change the energy and production system in the world. We will have to acquire new, sustainable living habits and show much more care for the environment. Otherwise, if we fail to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally during this crucial decade, and if we fail to reach net zero emissions by 2050, we will inevitably reach a point of no return,” said H.E. Stevo Pendarovski, President of the Republic of North Macedonia in his opening remarks.
At the Summit, young people led two panel discussions with national officials and international representatives where they engaged in dialogue on global, EU and national climate and energy policies and how young people can get involved through activism, education, entrepreneurship and innovation. Panellists encouraged young people to take an active role and reinforced their support to create space for young people to be heard and support youth led climate action.
“During the preparation of the revised contribution to the Paris Agreement, we paid special attention to youth consultations,” said Naser Nuredini, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning adding that as an institution responsible for proposing climate policies, the Ministry takes into account the key principles mentioned by young people for appropriate and relevant climate action. “We understand the importance of involving young people in national decision-making processes, especially in the field of climate, because no one is more affected than them.”
“The three-year programme of UNICEF and the Swedish International Cooperation Agency is fully integrated into the education system reform of the primary education which we launched this school year. Students will have an opportunity to learn, talk and think during the extracurricular activities in addition to their regular environmental classes. We expect all this to provide better opportunities and better education for our young people, but also to develop an awareness of care, love and protection of the planet Earth,” said Mila Carovska, Minister of Education and Science.
“Climate change is one the greatest threat facing the world’s children and young people. UNICEF’s global report on children climate risk reveals that 1 billion children are at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of climate change. That is nearly half of all the world’s children. It is evident that children bear the greatest burden of climate change and that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis. It poses an unprecedented threat to the health, nutrition, education, development, survival, and future potential of all children,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative. “This situation requires decision makers to place children and young people at the very center of their plans to address the climate crisis and to hear their voice. Today, at this Summit, young people are not just demanding action – they are acting themselves. We have a duty to continue creating the space for their voice to be heard and engaging them in driving the solutions.“
“Education and awareness raising starting from the youngest age are essential elements of the global and local response to the greatest challenges of our time – climate change and environmental degradation. We must ensure that our youth is well informed and educated so that they can contribute with their unique perspectives in building healthy, green and climate resilient societies. That is why am glad that Sweden, through its development cooperation, is supporting a project here in North Macedonia that focuses on raising youth awareness around environment and climate change,” said H.E. Kristin Forsgren Bengtsson, Ambassador of Sweden in North Macedonia.
“Here in North Macedonia, we have carried out projects on climate action with youth to amplify the voices of those most affected by climate change, to empower young people to take action and to demonstrate the inspiring action young people are already taking to tackle climate change. We must put youth at the centre of decision-making processes on climate change. The time to take action is now and work together to preserve our planet’s ecosystem and reduce our carbon footprint,” said H.E. Rachel Galloway, Ambassador of UK in North Macedonia.
“Italy is fully committed in the fight against climate change. Engaging the younger generations, as we did in Milan and are doing today, is crucial for long-lasting results,” said H.E. Andrea Silvestri, Ambassador of Italy in North Macedonia.
One of the youth delegates – Angela Busheska – who represented the country at the Youth4Climate event in Milan joined the discussion sending a message to her peers: “We cannot let anyone else decide for our future! Through the Youth Climate Declaration, our voice will reach national and world leaders. Our calls to action will also be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. I am sending a message to all young people that every word and every action we make means life. Let us all be loud to make a change,” she said.
The Youth Climate Declaration that was adopted at the end of the Summit, calls for intergenerational solidarity and exemplary leadership of all institutions and includes five specific asks: creating space for young people to drive climate solutions; decision makers to rethink economic models and find ways to incentivize industries to work sustainably; to promote repair and reuse and durable products that last longer; to decentralize energy production with a greater focus on solar energy cooperatives; and to introduce climate change education with experiential learning.
The Declaration represents the voice of thousands of young people from the country because it comes as a result of their involvement in previous consultative initiatives such as the “Youth meaningful participation for climate action and NDC ambition”, “Reimagine the Future” and “U-report”.
The Youth Climate Summit was a youth-led initiative supported by UNICEF and funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), organized in partnership with the Embassy of Italy, as country-host of the UN Youth Climate Summit in Milan, and the Embassy of the United Kingdom, as country-host of the UN Climate change conference in Glasgow.