The COP28 Presidency delivered a lasting legacy for youth inclusion in climate decision-making, with the announcement that the role of the Presidency Youth Climate Champion (YCC) will be carried forward to future COPs.
Parties have agreed in the official COP28 negotiated text to institutionalize the role of the YCC within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. This mandates all future COP Presidencies to facilitate the meaningful participation and representation of youth in future COPs.
COP28 was the first COP to appoint an official YCC, Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, who was previously the youngest minister in the world at the age of 22. She now serves as the UAE’s Minister of Community Development.
“The UAE has become the birthplace of the role of the first ever COP Youth Climate Champion, carrying forward the nation’s rich legacy in empowering youth to a global level,” said HE Al Mazrui. “COP28 has been a groundbreaking COP for youth inclusion, with unprecedented initiatives that have put children and young people are the heart of the climate action process. We have delivered transformative change that will stand as a lasting legacy for future COPs.”
Around one billion children worldwide are currently at extreme high risk from the impacts of climate change. While many young people are already leading climate action across the globe, they still have limited input into climate policymaking.
COP28 featured programming and a series of notable initiatives focused on youth inclusion in the climate process. This included the Dubai Youth Dialogue Forum, the most extensive platform to date for direct discussion on climate between youth and governments, and a dedicated Youth, Children, Education and Skills Day, which brought children, youth, and educators to the center of the COP process.
COP28 also featured the official launch of the Youth Stock take Report by YOUNGO, the Official Children and Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC, with support from the Youth Climate Champion. It represents the first-ever comprehensive analysis of youth engagement in the UNFCCC process and provides a roadmap to enhance youth inclusion moving forward.
The COP28 Youth Climate Delegates Program has been the largest initiative to-date to expand youth participation in the COP process, with 110 young people from around the world being empowered to drive climate action in their communities and join the COP, many of whom for the first time.
The delegates received comprehensive capacity-building and full funding to participate in COP28. This enabled them to contribute to the negotiations process and establish a pioneering model for inclusion at COP for youth from small island developing states, least developed countries, Indigenous and conflict-affected communities, and youth with disabilities.
The UAE has been committed to supporting the formalization of the YCC role throughout the year. to ensure that strong support of youth inclusion is guaranteed at future COPs. The current YCC and COP28 Presidency teams are currently seeking sustainable external funding for the role to avoid any need for Party-negotiated finance.