Despite all criticism, the Paris Agreement of 2015 was a step in the right direction: After 21 years of negotiations, state leaders could finally agree that Climate Change demands for determined and collective actions. The target is clear: Keeping global warming below 1.5 °C and adapting to the impacts of Climate Change. Now, states and societies have to translate words into action to close the gap between ambition and change on the ground. As the climate is changing, our societies need to transform. We believe that the youth has a central role to play in this challenge.
In December of 2018, state leaders will meet again in Poland to follow up on the conference in Paris and discuss further steps on climate change. Leading up to this, youth, too, will organise themselves in a global Conference of Youth (COY) in Poland and Local COYs held all over the world. These meetings prepare young people to participate in the UN processes. But they also serve as laboratories to share and explore new forms of engagement and to connect to LCOYs and youth movements in other parts of the world. The LCOY of the Netherlands is part of this growing, global community.
Any change, however, has to start on the ground. Without the strong and diverse youth network here in the Netherlands, the LCOY wouldn’t be possible. We are inspired by Jonge Klimaatbeweging (Youth Climate Movement), that communicates Dutch youth interests to the government and is impacting the Dutch climate accord. We are motivated by Jongeren Milieu Actief, engaging hundreds of young people in their court case against Shell. And we see potential for a strong international movement in the thousands of Europeans that came together at Ende Gelände during last year’s climate conference in Bonn.
As we will search for solutions here in the Netherlands and at LCOYs all around the world, we want to inspire governments, cities, companies, and our communities to be more ambitious in their actions. We value cooperation and aim to connect youth here in the Netherlands, in Europe and beyond. To achieve collective action this Local Conference of Youth aims to empower youth nationally and help in building a global youth network. With everything we do, we want to build on the achievements of previous COYs, connect with the current ones, and support future conferences.
To say it is time to act on climate change would not be quite accurate: It has been time for many years. Now, more than ever, we, as young people have to use our agency in combating climate change. We have to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions. Where are we in our fight against climate change? Where do we want to go from here? How do we get there? What do we need from each other? How do I relate to this personally? The LCOY is a forum to discuss these questions collectively and to find answers together.