Global Shapers: How youth and least developed countries helped shape climate outcomes at COP27

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Natalie Pierce, Head of Global Shapers Community, World Economic Forum, Sophia Simmons, Project Specialist, Climate and Environment, Global Shapers Community, World Economic Forum

  • While many condemned COP27 negotiations a failure – youth activism and leadership in Sharm el-Sheikh stood out more than ever before.
  • Youth representation at the climate talks was encouraging, despite young people often being sidelined in key decision-making processes.
  • We asked young people from the Global Shapers Community what is possible when youth get a seat at the negotiating table.

The Global Shapers Community, a network of more than 15,000 change-makers under the age of 30, descended on COP27 as innovators, advocates, experts, members of country delegations and negotiators.

From a dedicated pavilion to more than 100 side-events and participating in the negotiations, youth representation in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh was encouraging, despite young people often being sidelined in key decision-making processes.

They were not only demanding urgent climate action from political and business leaders, they were also instigating and leading positive change themselves.

Too often youth voices are tokenized and not taken seriously. Members of the Global Shapers Community are sensitive to this type of ‘check-the-youth-box’ inclusion and were proud to report that at COP27 there were many opportunities for meaningful and concrete engagement.

We asked two Global Shapers to share their perspectives on the negotiations and the impact of youth on achieving our world’s collective climate targets.

Jeremy Raguain – Climate Negotiator and Global Shaper, Victoria Hub, Seychelles

“As an Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Fellow from the Seychelles, a highly vulnerable nation to climate change, I have a life-long responsibility to defend small island developing states (SIDS). Many have already deemed COP27 a failure – an oversimplistic and manufactured narrative that I urge us to challenge.

“When thinking about what success looks like for the most vulnerable in fighting the climate crisis, the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] acknowledgment of loss and damage and a decision to establish a fund must be recognized as hard-won victory, especially after decades of merciless and unethical obstruction by polluters (CSSN Briefing).

“At COP27, I joined an increasing number of early career professionals from SIDS and the Global South that can best represent and fight for our homes. Together we supported AOSIS, which represents 39 states, as well as the Seychelles COP27 delegation, by following the negotiations and aspects related to the Global Stocktake and the ocean climate nexus.

“Success at COP27 should not be solely defined by the Global North. In fact, when looking at the aims, interests and actions of its representatives they have yet again succeeded in continuing to pollute with impunity after centuries of doing so.

“But with the establishment of a historic loss and damages fund, which the island nation of Vanuatu first proposed on behalf of AOSIS in 1991, there is hope for SIDS and others to not only survive the climate crisis, but also disincentive pollution.”

Namgay Choden – Negotiator and Global Shaper, Thimphu Hub, Bhutan

“I went to COP27 as the youngest female delegate representing a least developed country, Bhutan. At first, I thought it was a privilege for me to be in the negotiation rooms. But as the days progressed, I realized that it is not a privilege but rather a necessity for people like me to be in the room – to speak for my generation and my country, as well as my region’s future.

“Bhutan along with the 45 other least developed countries contribute the least to climate change yet stand to be the most impacted by its worst impacts. For the LDCs and much of the developing world, the capability to adapt to and mitigate climate change also stands as a great challenge.

“In the context of the cooperative approaches to enhanced climate ambition stipulated in the Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, there is great hope among the LDCs that there would be net positive flow of capital into their countries as a non-emitter through the carbon markets.

“However, equitable participation in the carbon markets is highly questionable as institutional and infrastructures capacities still are lacking in the LDCs. Thus, it was important for Bhutan, on behalf of the LDCs, to bring attention to such barriers.

“Nonetheless, while there are many thoughtful and valid criticisms of the COP and multilateral process, I walk away with the conviction that the multilateral process is the only means we have for the voice of the most vulnerable to be heard in a manner that counts.

“And that is worth upholding and fighting for. An increase in number of young negotiators means that the interests and concerns of youth in their respective countries are also represented.”

Youth key to influencing climate COP outcomes

For those that were not at the negotiator’s table, Global Shaper Pato Kelesitse reminded young people around the world that youth and their actions are key to influencing the outcomes of the negotiations.


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Contact us to get involved.

She put it very directly during the World Economic Forum’s COP27 Closing Session by saying that “negotiators must know they have young people to answer to”.

At COP28, we need more young negotiators around the table, and this is the goal of the Global Shapers Community.

Watch youth representatives share insights from Sharm el-Sheikh and read the key messages and outcomes from the largest youth community at COP27.

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