Youth no longer want to be just a token of inclusion; they want to have a voice and a place in conferences that discuss the future of the Planet and the Climate Emergency.
Because of the current economic, social and environmental situation, it is important that the already awakened young become ever more vigilant and determined to take their place where decisions are being made, to enter into the political arena and the halls of civil society, becoming multiplying agents who will positively influence other leaders with their enhanced vision of present day actions and their determination to insure a better future for all.
In August of 2021 the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) announced that 23% of the Brazilian population, that is 47 million people, were between the ages of 15 and 29. We, these young activists, are exponentially increasing our power by bringing a plurality of participation into politics, into governmental councils and into the larger political debate, such as this UN Conference of the Parties (COPs). An excellent example of this is the young Indigenous activist Txaí Suruí who was the only Brazilian to give a speech at the 26th Climate Conference in Glasgow, and who brought to light the reality of the impacts of climate change on her people’s lands in the Amazon when she said:
“Today the climate is getting hotter; the animals are disappearing; the rivers are dying; our vegetable gardens are not producing like they used to. Planet Earth is speaking; she is telling us that we have run out of time.”
Climate change has, without mercy, reached into every corner of the world. Even so its impact is being felt differently in Global South countries which innocently suffer from the dire consequences of emissions from the “developed” world. The Covid-19 pandemic amplified social inequality, making many vulnerabilities visible and burdening the Young with astronomical impacts while they found themselves in the middle of a global paralysis, diminishing any positive perspectives for their futures and raising their anxiety levels among other physical and emotional illnesses.
Youth Sounding Board of the European Union in Brazil aims to dialogue with youth. In the group, 15 young people represent the diversity of the country, among them is Regilon Matos, a member of the Casa Socio-Environmental Fund team. Photo: EU Embassy in Brazil / Reproduction of the Casa Socio-Environmental Fund website.
According to the geophysicist and head of the Department of Applied Physics of the University of São Paulo (USP) Doctor Paulo Artaxo, the world is facing three simultaneous emergencies, emergencies with both similarities and differences, and which require immediate attention. They are Health, Climate and Biodiversity. The key solution all three problems share is science; but the difference that distinguishes each problem is the time it will require to solve. Health, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, can take years to solve; Climate, because of to date the Global North’s lack of action to control emissions, can take decades or more; and Biodiversity, once extinct, is lost to the planet forever.
With the goals of bringing together the voices of the future, of providing a safe space for building community, and of stimulating the participation of the young. The EU and French Embassy began projects which welcomed the young as protagonists, with the EU even opening the Youth Sounding Board – YSB (Comitê Consultivo da Juventude para Cooperação Técnica da UE no Brasil) to the young for them to become active members in order to incorporate into the work plan the perspectives of youth collectives. Because of this the young can collaborate in the formulation of opportunities that include the young in debates which will create a detailed work plan for the coming years.
Thanks to the cooperation between the French Embassy, Casa Fund and both Brazilian and international organizations, the world today benefits from Lab Jovens, a visionary program that mobilizes, with the necessary technological tools, with mentorships and with follow-through, the young between the ages of 18 and 26 thereby creating a huge network of activists ready to preserve biodiversity and to free the planet’s rivers and oceans of the plastic that is killing us all.
Beyond the mere presence of the young at conferences, it is necessary to get rid of the paradigm in which our image is simply a token for the powers that be to say they are inclusive. We, the Young, are in a hurry and feel every day the climate crisis, every day the rising global social inequality, and every day the difficulties that we must encounter in order to make the necessary transitions to face head on the social-environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Above and beyond that, a green and sustainable world requires that cooperation and trust become the lenses through which we see society both locally and globally. We, the Young, must play the role of indispensable partners and, even beyond that, the significant role of implementers of our own demands and initiatives. We must be included, in a totally integrated manner, into, especially, global financial structures in order to amplify the solutions, according to Domênica Facaldi, board member of YSB and coordinator of the Laboratory of Innovation and Technology at the NGO Engajamundo.
Therefore, it is crucial that where the major impacts of the climate crisis are being felt be at the center where decisions are being made. We, as agents of transformation and bridges of communication, are bringing information in a democratic and easily understood way back to our territories, are confronting “the system”, and are questioning where are the funds, so much talked about in these conferences, for Climate Crises? Finally let it be known that, in order to take care of what remains of the planet’s forests, we must also take care of all the lives including humans who live in them, strengthening the abilities of the young there by making sure that funds with all the necessary implementation support arrive in the hands and the lands of those who have for thousands of years have been preserving, and in the last 500 years, fighting to preserve these forests so critical to clean our rivers and oceans and to save our endangered environment.
About the author: Regilon Matos (Régis) is 23 years old and works in the program area of the Casa Socio-Environmental Fund, working on projects related to climate change mitigation. Régis is a Civil Engineer and a fellow of the Youth Climate Leaders (YCL) network, climate reality leader for the Climate Reality Project Brazil and member of the Youth Advisory Committee for Cooperation of the European Union in Brazil.
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