Today’s youth population (nearly 1.9 billion) bear the brunt of complex global crises such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of climate change. But far from being passive victims, young women and men continue to emerge as catalysts of change, spearheading innovative solutions and leading their communities towards responsible and sustainable progress.

Recognizing the expertise and determination of young people, the United Nation System Staff College (UNSSC) partnered with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY) to deliver a tailor-made training as part of the “Youth Force: Transforming Accountable Growth and Recovery from COVID-19” project. The initiative focuses on empowering young individuals as key partners in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

A total of 12 youth advocates from diverse backgrounds and thematic areas of expertise were selected to participate in this transformational initiative.

Understanding Climate Action

“Young people are agents of change. They are working within their communities to educate and take action, so we have to invest in their agency, and we have to recognize that they are not only working for the future but also for the present world we are living in here today. Youth are key stakeholders in achieving a green and sustainable recovery.” ~Wevyn Muganda – UNICEF GenU YPAT & ISIRIKA Representative

The training revolved around the central theme of climate action, placing it at the heart of each participant’s learning journey. In fact, on the first day the young changemakers agreed on the following definition of climate action as a guide for their interactions in the training and future actions in their communities:

Climate action is an inclusive, innovative and sustainable action which is aimed at building environmental consciousness on human and non-human activities towards the preservation and protection of life on land and water, thereby reducing the adverse socio-environmental consequences of climate change. It is also a holistic movement to make the ecosystem resilient and sustainable through multilevel individual and systemic efforts, taking into account the needs of current and future generations.

The learning programme went beyond the exchange of knowledge and experience. The facilitators’ cross-sectorial approach enabled discussions on diverse topics, from visualizing the future through foresight and future literacy methodology with UNESCO, to understanding intersectionality in work with civil society actors (Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari and Slow Factory), and finally concluding with honing one’s advocacy skills with Dr Michael Shank from Carbon Neutral Cities Alliances and New York University.

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