Network for Youth in Transition


Youth and Climate Change


Climate change is one of the major global challenges of the 21st century, especially with regard to developing countries. Geographical and geological circumstances, in combination with a lack of social
and economic development, leave developing countries among the most vulnerable
when it comes to adaptation and mitigation challenges. The long and short term
consequences of climate change will impact directly on development efforts and
might slow down or hamper the achievement of internationally agreed development
goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Youth in developing countries, especially in regions within Africa and Asia where a majority of the world’s youth live, will likely be more affected by climate change and its
negative consequences than young people in developed countries. Extreme weather
events are occurring more frequently and in developing countries in particular.
The consequences of extreme weather events have direct impact on health and
safety of youth in these regions, especially when sanitary facilities and waste
water management are poor. Since 30-50 per cent of youth in many African
countries lack access to basic services, they are highly subject to the risk of
disease in case of extreme weather events. Water scarcity, higher temperatures
and an increased threat of heath-stress contribute even more to the
vulnerability of young people. These developments pose a potential threat to
the food security in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean
because of its negative effects on food production, food distribution and

Another consequence of climate change might have direct impact on the young people’s livelihoods is the originating of conflict situations. Factors that generally contribute to the development of a conflict
situation, such as poverty, political instability and societal tensions could
be intensified by the consequences of climate change. There exists a
considerable possibility that tensions in Africa
might rise due to lack of water resources in some of its regions.

The World Youth Report on Youth and Climate Change highlights the impact of climate change on young people’s livelihoods. Youth employment is one of the main areas that can
be severely affected by climate change. A majority of young people living in
developing countries work in the agricultural sector, and are therefore
dependent on natural resources. This sector is particularly vulnerable to the
consequences of climate change; extreme weather events can destroy crops, may
lead to soil degradation, and could diminish agricultural production. For this
reason, the threat of unemployment and economic instability must be taken very
seriously. On the other hand, the consequences of climate change may create new
labour opportunities for youth in developed countries, as the demand for green
jobs and green innovations is significantly increasing. 

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognizes the importance of youth participation and extended the provisional constituency status to young people in during COP15 in November
2009. This extended status allows young people to receive official information,
to participate in meetings and to request speaking slots at the COP meetings.
COP 16, held in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November – 10 to December 2010, was attended by around 500 youth delegates,
youth activists and representatives of youth organizations from all over the
world. By organizing conference side events and by participating in media
events, youth were able to expand their network and raise their concerns on
climate change issues. 

Youth have shown their engagement and concern about climate change in numerous initiatives all over the world. Young people and youth led organizations have been effectively participating in a wide range of adaptation
and mitigation projects dealing with climate change. There are many examples of
successful projects in which young people are being educated or educate each
other on climate change issues. The World
Youth Report
highlights many of these positive initiatives. For example, in
Guatemala students performed a
hand-made-puppet show and planted trees in order to create awareness about
climate change. Youth also have participated in numerous forums and workshops
in which they shared information and worked on their capacities. In these
projects, internet and digital media play a crucial role, facilitating global
networks and stimulating interaction between young people from all over the

Apart from participating in programmes and projects within organizations young people can take a leading role in tackling climate change.  By making small changes in their
daily lives, this generation of young people can make a great difference. Youth
can take action by making small changes at home and promoting a sustainable
lifestyle in their local communities by acting as good examples. By turning off
the lights when you leave the room or by using the bicycle instead of the car,
you already contribute to a greener and more sustainable environment. 

To read the newly released World Youth Report on Youth and Climate change, please visit:


Source:UN YOUTH FLASH. Vol. 7, No. 12, December 2010

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