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Nov 17, 2022

A Space for Children & Youth Voices at the UN Conference of the Parties

COP27 is winding down as final meetings are being held. Today, there were bilateral discussions held with the leadership of the Belize delegation, a methane ministerial session and a meeting with the Singaporeans. But there was also space provided for the youth and indigenous peoples of the world to be heard. Thousands of young people were engaged and played active roles at this year’s COP. They are the future and should be involved in the discussions about the survival of their homes. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Climate change is everyone’s business, so you can never be too old or too young to get involved and know what you can do to make a difference. An individual change – simple action such as the proper disposal of your garbage, turning off the lights when not in use or even cutting down how much gas you use can help with the survival of the place you call home.


Sumeet Betancourt

Sumeet Betancourt, Emission Factor Officer, Forest Department

“The river, the forest, has always been a part of what we do for fun. We go to the river to swim, we go to the forest to play catch, to play hide and seek and so this has always been a part of my life growing up. Even up to now, I enjoy hiking, I enjoy going to the Chiquibul Forest, I enjoy going to different areas across the country, the cayes and so it’s aways been intertwined in what I do for enjoyment.”


The love for the place he calls home is what inspired San Ignacio resident Sumeet Betancourt to pursue a degree in natural resource management. Now, Betancourt is not only the Emission Factor Officer for the Government of Belize, but he’s also a successful negotiator for the Belize delegation at the United Nations Conference of the Parties, dealing with the heavily discussed Article Six of the Paris Agreement which focuses on climate finance.


Sumeet Betancourt

“To have the opportunity to be a part of that, to be able to push for Belize to ensure that we maintain what we have now for not only my current generation, but my little niece, my nephew, my cousins, my family and everyone growing up in Belize. Because truly the way some actions across the world are going, it’s really having an impact on us. So it is important for me to be able to play a role in combating the impacts of climate change, a meaningful role. And so, I am very fortunate and proud to be here at COP27.”


The youth voice at COP is critical and that space is provided through YOUNGO, the Youth Non-Governmental Organizations, which is the official children and youth constituency of the UNFCCC.  During the first-ever climate week in Belize in mid-October, a youth declaration was created and was included in YOUNGO’s global statement on youth.


Sumeet Betancourt

“This is cross-generational, multigenerational and so the youth voice is critical in this fight. We can’t do this without informing the youth, without informing my generation and for the generation to come. So, without us, it is impossible to fight and actually start to winning the fight against climate change.”


The youth pavilion at COP27 in Egypt, saw the engagement of thousands of young people from across the world, who are actively involved in the climate change conversation. They, too, are having meetings, joining protests and expressing concerns on the future of the planet, calling for real commitment and action across the board. Among those persons is another Belizean, Jason Salgado.


Jason Salgado

Jason Salgado, Participant, Youth International

“Young people have been within the youth space of the international climate space. And we believe that young people can contribute with a lot of recommendations. Young people are affected by climate change, we know what’s happening so we have the solution, we can innovate, we are professionals, and we think that we can provide positive solutions and bring them to the table.”


And there are many more like Salgado who are resolute in wanting to be part of the change. UNICEF’s Regional Climate Change Advisory for Latin America and the Caribbean Regional, Reis Lopez is impressed by the youth turnout and participation this year.


Reis Lopez

Reis Lopez, Regional Climate Change Advisory for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNICEF

“This is the first time there is a youth pavilion so that speaks very loud about how they are beginning to include children and youth into the conversation, into the climate processes. So, I think it is really important to start from that basis. Speaking with different negotiators, different colleagues from the COP, we have seen that still we have a lot to do to advance the rights of children in the negotiations. The climate crisis is a child crisis. It’s a crisis that is not in the future; it is happening now and the most impacted are the children who have little agency, who have not the economy resources to bounce back, not the political push to make decision or voices heard. So we are really aiming to have this platform for them to speak out – to be part of the conversation and to be part of the solution.”


Lopez feels, however, that there can be more participation by Caribbean youth.


Reis Lopez

“For this COP, maybe because it is too far, I haven’t seen much representation from the Caribbean, so I think it is a point to realty highlight. We want for them to be part of the conversation. We all do have a role to play fighting on this crisis. Young people who are interested can really do their fair share by recycling, by learning about the science about climate change, about engaging with local organizations, about engaging within themselves with different ideas. We are really pushing for governments to include young people to be part of their delegations that sit at the table and negotiate, and we have clear good examples from the region.”


There are multiple levels of participation in the climate change battle. And as Betancourt puts it, a country’s resilience starts at the community level.


Sumeet Betancourt

“Most recently in Hurricane Lisa, there were multiple organizations, youth organizations and youth in general who contributed to recovery. You see these actions and my personal friends are there. You can see it in the news. So, it is as simply as you wanting to contribute to any effort within your community, it starts within your community.”


Reporting for News Five from COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. I’m Duane Moody.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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