It Begins: COP 24 Youth Jump In

Arrivals, COY, and Day 1 of COP24

We are greeted by a diplomatic backdrop as we enter the COP 24 venue for the first time called Międzynarodowe Centrum Kongresowe in Katowice, Poland

LANDING:

After months of dedicated planning, research and engagement, the Week 1 team of the BCCIC Youth Delegates finally arrived in Katowice, Poland to attend the the 24th Conference of Parties (COP 24). The COP kick-started this year a full day early, on December 2nd, in order to provide Parties the best chances to to reach the crucial finalization of the Paris Agreement Working Plan (PAWP) – or the “Paris Rulebook.”

Stepping off the plane into the cold, crisp air of Katowice, we British Columbian youth carried our bags full not only of our diverse backgrounds, education, and interests, but also full of optimism and determination to bring the voices and concerns of our fellow British Columbian youth directly to the international arena.

Jeffrey Qi, Organizer of COY and BCCIC Climate Change Programme Coordinator and Benjamin Georges-Picot, week 1 BCCIC delegate strategizing on the technical frameworks framework in the YOUNGO policy position paper during the Conference of Youth.

YOUNGO & COY

Before the official COP24 opening, youth gathered on November 29th for the 14th annual Conference of Youth (COY) to prepare their contributions. This year, 800+ youth delegates from over 50 countries gathered at the University of Silesia in Katowice to work over three days on a variety of key climate issues. On the first day, workshops were run on topics such as engaging youth in climate action through capacity building, policy training and preparation for COP24, as well as through sharing stories in the Talanoa dialogue format. On the second day, the bottom-lining team of YOUNGO–the official youth constituency at the UNFCCC – organized youth delegates into joint working groups focused on critical, cross-cutting topics such as climate adaptation, mitigation, finance, technical mechanisms, health, and many more. YOUNGO has over 15 policy working groups focused on elements of climate negotiations, and youth delegates of COY joined working groups based upon topics they’re interested in to draft up their section of the YOUNGO policy paper.

Sophia working with the mitigation working group including youth delegates from Switzerland, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Tunisia during COY drafting up the closing statement to be used in the address in YOUNGO’s meeting with Patricia Espinosa, the UN Secretary General.

Attending COY was not only a great way to network with other young passionate leaders from across the world, but also a chance to reaffirm our confidence that youth have the great ambition and capacity to truly make a difference in the climate arena. Between the 3 BCCIC youth delegates who attended COY, we strategized and discussed with over 50 other youth delegates from 10 different countries, co-wrote several sections of the YOUNGO policy paper, and supported fantastic youth-led events on all 3 days of the conference.

Liam and Sadie of the BCCIC Youth Delegation working with the adaptation working group at COY. Adaptation is a major topic in the negotiations this year as it crosscuts into various other issues such as loss and damage and finance. Go team!

DAY ONE: OPENING PLENARY

Monday morning, our team braved the icey Polish December winter air as we shuttle-bussed in the dark from Krakow to Katowice to the COP venue. We were pleasantly surprised to find the COP venue a modern, spacious conference center, about 38,000 square metres and a variety of varying-sized (well-heated!) conference rooms. Still jet-lagged, we were even more thrilled to find stations of affordable coffee.

Opening session of the CMA (Meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement) by Fijan Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama.

Day One’s (or technically, pre-Day-1) venue air was filled with both excitement and tension, evidence of the crucial importance of the outcomes hanging on this COP. During the official Opening Plenary, Poland’s Deputy Environment Minister Michal Kurtyka took official Presidency over the summit and highlighted the key events of the next two weeks, including the High Level segments, the Stocktake on Pre-2020 Ambition, the Ministerial Dialogue on Climate FInance, and the Talanoa Dialogue. The President impassioned everyone present to show creativity and flexibility over the next two weeks, to use every moment wisely in order to deliver the crucial results we need to put Paris into action. The CMP (Meeting of Parties to Kyoto), CMA (Meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement) and SBI (Subsidiary Body for Implementation) were also opened, and we attended the following SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) Opening Plenary.

We ended the first day with an evening dash to a grocery store for much-needed nutrition supplies, and a late night of collective strategizing among fuzzy blankets and mugs of tea. We are thrilled and impatient to dive into Day 2!

BCCIC Week 1 COP 24 delegates with a fellow youth delegate from the International Forestry Student Association UBC Chapter

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