Paris was described as ‘historical’ because the world finally agreed to what some describe as a ‘legally-binding’ document on climate change and a highlight was having the United States of America as a signatory. The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) has kicked off with key issues to be addressed which includes the creation of a legal framework for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDCs are a feature of Paris which was pivotal to having an agreement that was agreeable by most parties. It provided States the ability to decide what commitments they were to make as a State. The Paris Agreement includes reporting obligations but without further information to ensure clarity, understanding of the contribution and transparency and on accounting methodologies. The World Conference on Youth is taking place in Belize where over 200 young people have gathered to discuss the role of young people in delivering the 2030 agenda. Simultaneously, across the Atlantic in Bonn, COP23 addresses the role of non-State actors to implement the Paris Agreement. This article makes a case for the role of young people as Climate Accountability Advocates.
To begin with, a simplistic explanation of the NDCs. NDCs is a new feature of the Paris Agreement which is a stark difference from the Kyoto Protocol whereby countries were categorised based on their level of development and mandated to undertake certain obligations and to cut their carbon emissions. However, Paris gives countries the ability to decide what their contributions will be with the understanding that it will become more ambitious with the passage of time. In the same year, countries signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) committing to climate action in SDG13 and other aspects of sustainability such as SDG 14, 15, 12, and 7. Each SDG had goals, targets and indicators of success. With these two parallel frameworks working side by side to ensure that there is no further destruction of the planet, young people can play a crucial role to ensure that Member States are on track to achieving their set targets.
With the proper training, a pool of young people could be deemed the Climate Accountability Advocates of their country where they would collect data, monitor the implementation and evaluate whether governments were in fact, reaching the self-set targets. This type of citizen engagement provides a crucial and engaging role in the 2030 agenda and the data can be used for a variety of purposes which may include:
- The data generated can be used as an advocacy and accountability tool for calls to action.
- The data can serve as ‘shadow’ reporting or contributions to the reporting obligation of the Member States.
- The data generated can be used to raise awareness about climate change and the gaps that are not being fulfilled which may encourage private sector or civil society organisations to contribute to.
With a consultative process, whereby governments, non-governmental organisations, private sector and youth agree on the indicators that should be monitored, a simple training workshop on how to collect data and monitor the success of the agreed indicators is all that is needed to make such an impactful initiative a reality. There are already existing tools that can be used to implement such a mechanism. They include the youth-led accountability tools created by Restless Development (hyperlink: http://restlessdevelopment.org/youth-led-accountability) and a social network that allows data capture to be filtered into useful graphs and charts known as Verdentum. (hyperlink: https://verdentum.org/index.php)
So, as you contemplate your role in ensuring the delivery of the 2030 agenda, think how young people can get organised to ensure our governments live up to their commitments.
By Angelique Pouponneau ACP YPN SDG14 Expert
Angelique Pouponneau, 27-year-old environmental lawyer from the Seychelles. She holds the position of vice-chairperson for inclusion and engagement of the Commonwealth Youth Council. Angelique is passionate about sustainability. In 2014, she co-founded a youth-led non-governmental organisation, SYAH-Seychelles, which provides a platform for young people to advance and promote sustainability through youth-led projects. To date the biggest achievements has been the successful campaign for the ban of plastic bags in the Seychelles and the implementation of the Blue Economy Internship Programme. For her work, she was recognised as a Queen’s Young Leader in 2016.
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