The next generation takes the stage
Presenting a position paper endorsed by 40,000 people, youth representatives urged world leaders to consider young people’s demands in climate talks. The paper calls for ensuring the representation of underrepresented groups, recognizing the role of cities in achieving a just transition, and respecting, protecting, fulfilling and promote all human rights in climate action. “You have the power to make youth and our demands a priority,” Clara Von Glasow from Germany told climate leaders including COP26 President Alok Sharma and UN Climate Chief Patricia Espinosa. Espinosa called their demands “reasonable and justified” and said they would be brought to the attention of negotiators.
The UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group also rallied youth-led climate action. UN Special Adviser on Climate Action Selwin Hart thanked the seven young leaders for their support, urging them not to lose hope. “Despite all the challenges we face, I still believe that we can solve the climate crisis,” Hart said. “But we need your voices. Please continue what you are doing. We will assure that you have a seat at the table.”
Community protection in the least developed countries
The least developed countries are taking action to build resilience against climate impacts they are already experiencing. The LIFE-AR initiative, aimed at giving communities control of their future, strengthens development cooperation and action on the triple crises of climate change, the degradation of nature and poverty. Norway and the United States joined the compact, already signed by 14 governments. US Climate Envoy John Kerry said it was closely aligned with US plans to boost support for climate adaptation and resilience.
Blue finance: Time to go big
It was Ocean Action Day at COP26. “A step-change in investment levels is critical to protect the welfare of the ocean, its ecosystems and the 3 billion people across the world which depend on it for food security and economic and social resilience,” said Karen Sack, head of the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, at an event that rallied support for blue finance.
“Today’s commitments show the growing momentum behind investment into coastal and ocean-focused, nature-based solutions to build resilience and reduce risk,” she stated. The Alliance aims to drive $500 million of investment into nature-based solutions and surface at least 50 novel finance products by 2030. The goal: boost the resilience of at least 250 million people in coastal areas around the world.
Glaciers are moving faster than leaders
UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh, the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world, shared the impacts of climate change he has witnessed at sea. “When I did my first swim in the Arctic, the water was 3°C. I went back recently in summer, the water is now 10°C,” he said.
During a recent swim in Greenland, he witnessed the speed at which glaciers were moving out to sea. “The sad reality is the glaciers are now moving faster than our political leaders. My message to them is we need to act, we need to act very, very quickly.”
Looking ahead to the UN Ocean Conference
Facing rising seas and increasingly extreme weather, coastal communities are on the front lines of the climate crisis. Ocean-climate issues, explored in Glasgow, will be front and centre at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, next year. Speaking at the SDG Pavilion at COP26, Peter Thomson, the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, said that sustainably managing ocean resources, as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals, is crucial. “All of our governments agreed to this back in 2015, and our job is to implement it,” he emphasized. The 2022 Ocean Conference in June next year will be “our moment of honesty” on how we are doing in taking action.