Mobilising Youth to Implement the Outcomes of COP26

15 December 2021| Articles


“Together as a united voice of youth, we can achieve the energy transition,” said Lydia Sanz Lozano, delivering her welcoming remarks as moderator of the fourth webinar of the “Energy Transition Heroes” series, launched by IRENA in collaboration with Enel Foundation.

The virtual talk titled “Energy Transition to Boost the Fight Against Climate Change: Setting the Future Agenda”, brought young leaders from around the world together to explore the lessons learned from Pre-COP & COP26 and the steps ahead so that youth leaders remain engaged in the energy transition.

“Today we can come together to share concrete ideas on driving action to achieve the energy transition and shape the future agenda for youth engagement in the fight against climate change,” said Director-General Francesco la Camera, addressing young people from around.

“Now is the time to amplify complete actions towards achieving our climate, energy, and development imperatives. The coming year will be critical for the energy transition and immediate actions must be taken to protect current and future generations,” added Mr. La Camera.

Representing Enel Foundation, Salvatore Bernabei, Member of Enel Foundation Board of Directors and CEO of Enel Green Power, said: “Young people are the drivers and the enablers of the energy transition and demonstrated the will and the skills to move “from protest to proposals”. It is our duty to put them in a position to lead sustainable change, to make them truly masters of their own future.”

The opening remarks were followed by an interactive discussion, where ice-breaking speeches were given by Camilla Born, Advisor to the COP26 President, and Mira Bergem, Senior Policy Advisor in the Permanent Mission to UN from Denmark.

Given her role, Ms. Born highlighted the work young people do to engage in climate change issues as a vital forcing mechanism that moves the global climate agenda forward. According to Ms. Born, the outcome of COP26 was far better than expected, attributing that to the fact that youth have energised the conversation over the last few years. “When the world moves together, we can move a lot faster,” she added, calling for youth to look to impact the communities they live in.

While delivering her remarks, Ms. Bergem reminisced on her journey from protesting as a young climate activist outside the doors of COP15 to representing her country as a part of the Denmark delegation at COP26. Ms. Bergem urged participants to never underestimate the power of youth in the fight for climate action.

Ms. Bergem stressed on the importance of addressing the barriers that hinder women and minorities from engaging in these sectors.

The event also featured a debate between young leaders, including Sibusiso Mazomba, Implementation Lead of the South African Youth Climate Action Plan; Marinel Sumook Ubaldo, EO Ambassador, and YLEAF Co-Founder; and Ernest Kristoffer Gibson, UN SG Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change from Fiji.

During his intervention, Sibusiso Mazomb delivered sobering remarks: “Grim is the fact that the ones contributing the least to the crisis are bearing its impacts.” Sibusiso underscored a disconnect between policymakers and those experiencing the issues on the ground.

However, the three expressed hope and optimism for the future with Marinel Sumook Ubaldo focusing on empowering and strengthening grassroots communities in her native Philippines, urging the audience to ask themselves a few important questions: “Where do I go to create a positive impact in my community? How can I help the most vulnerable?”

For his part, Ernest Kristoffer Gibson payed homage to the youth activists before him who paved the way for the advanced youth engagement we see today. He championed a just and equitable energy transition where all sectors and vulnerable communities are involved in the decision-making process.

The event takes place ahead of the 2022 IRENA Youth Forum in January which will showcase innovative youth-led actions and initiatives.Youth representatives engaged in the discussion will develop a document that will be presented to the IRENA Assembly, highlighting actionable steps that can advance the energy transition through innovative solutions.