My name is Ana Karen Proa Rebolledo and I am an Earth Charter Young Leader of Mexican origin and currently residing in Costa Rica. No matter where I am, whether it is my home country or not, I consider myself a global citizen and I believe there are no borders to take action. I try to leave the world better than how I found it.
This year, I had the honor of attending and participating in the Local Conference of Youth in Costa Rica,“Youth and Climate Change,” representing the Earth Charter Young Leaders along with Vanessa Fallas and Julián Arias Varela, who also participated in the various forums that took place during the PreCOP25 and I would like to share my experience.
On 7 October 2019, the Local Conference of Youth in Costa Rica, “Youth and Climate Change,” was held. This satellite event was held within the framework of PreCOP25, which is the preparatory meeting for the twenty-fifth Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Madrid, Spain in December of this year. This preparatory meeting took place from October 8 to 10 of the same year at the National Convention Center of Costa Rica.
This event was organized by young people participating in the organization of COY 15 (Conference of Youth) and Lacemos, with the support of strategic partners such as UNICEF, Pelagos, Youth Climate, Fridays For Future, América Solidaria, the Costa Rican Ministry of Youth and One Sea.
The Earth Charter Young Leaders also participated in the different workshops, forums and dialogues that were carried out, and always highlighting the values of the Earth Charter in each opinion, suggestion and proposal.
This Conference was the first of its kind in Costa Rica and brought together 86 people from 18 to 30 years old, as well as teenagers who dedicate their time and work to climate action, either as volunteers or volunteers in some organization, from professionally or independently with projects in different areas of the country promoting Sustainable Development and awareness about climate change.
Participating in this Conference was an enriching and motivating experience. We had the opportunity to talk to young people from different provinces of Costa Rica who take action in the urban, rural and / or fisheries sectors, and also from some of the indigenous areas of the country. Many of the participants had wonderful initiatives, some are still teenage students, and participants came both from Costa Rica and other countries such as Chile and Guatemala.
The purpose of this forum prior to the PreCOP was also to know firsthand the perspectives and experiences of young people of Costa Rica about climate change, to obtain a joint written declaration in which we raise our voices exposing our needs, commitments and challenges facing climate change. For this, for a whole day we worked in different work tables where different themes were discussed.
The themes addressed at the work tables were:
-The right to participate in climate-related actions and decisions;
-Youth- and adolescent-centered policies;
-Impact on vulnerable populations;
-Climate change partnerships.
I worked on the theme of “Impact on vulnerable populations,” in which we talked about the consequences of climate change on rural, coastal, agricultural, indigenous and urban populations. We discuss how their society must adapt to climate change but it is not always possible, most of the inhabitants of these populations or communities are forced to migrate to other places to survive or must continue to live in places without food security, without employment or without sanitation, affecting not only their economy but also their quality of life in terms of health.
By having young people from indigenous communities a fairly important dialogue was formed on how indigenous communities suffer the greatest impact in the face of climate change and most of the time their human rights are violated for defending their lands from projects that damage soils or vegetation that surrounds them. Some of them commented that many of the indigenous territories were close to disappearing due to the impact of climate change and that this jeopardizes the possible disappearance of ancestral traditions.
We also talked about how in regards to gender issues, women are more affected. Some women leaders of climate action projects told us their experiences and challenges as they are women who lead a project in the face of a predominantly male population and as with many years of work they have managed to overcome these difficult challenges and change the vision we have about women in charge of community projects.
It was inspiring to hear so many different experiences of young people in climate action but it was even more inspiring to work together and together define the challenges that different communities in the world face and to have the perspective of young people who experience these challenges every day in different parts of Latin America.
Next, I share the result of the productive dialogue that was obtained at the “Impacts on vulnerable populations” work table in which I participated, representing the Earth Charter Young Leaders.
Theme 4: Impact on vulnerable populations. We, the participating young persons, observe that:
- The socioeconomic and environmental impact on vulnerable populations such as coastal,
Indigenous and rural populations, women, refugees, migrants, disabled persons, children,
adolescents and young persons will increase with climate change;
- There is limited financing for climate actions aimed at reducing the vulnerability of these
- There is a direct impact on peace and human rights such as the rights to human dignity,
water, a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, education, shelter, health, decent
work, the socioeconomic insertion of migrants (especially climate migrants), equality,
justice, and access to land and peace;
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child is being violated, since children are the regional
population sector most strongly affected by climate change.
We believe that the challenges are:
- To promote actions that enhance the resilience of and reduce the risk for vulnerable
- To generate finance for carrying out climate actions addressing the impact on vulnerable
- For local and national governments to work on climate actions following a human rights
approach and considering each place’s ecological integrity;
- To preserve Indigenous territories for ecosystem conservation.
Our role is to:
- Include populations that are vulnerable to climate change in our action areas;
- Generate accessible information for working with vulnerable populations;
- Demand local and national government provide financing to ensure the human rights of the populations most vulnerable to climate change, emphasizing the rights of children;
- Demand that local and national governments work together with civil society on human
rights-centered actions, considering each place’s ecosystem needs.
Finally, with all the material resulting from the work tables carried out and the exposed in the different forums, the Declaration of Latin American Youth on Climate Change was carried out in the framework of the preparatory meeting of the Twenty-fifth Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This declaration includes the perspectives of the 86 participants who represented in this exercise the youth of the different sectors of Costa Rica and other countries such as Mexico, Chile and Guatemala, in addition to the opinions of 505 participants of the virtual consultation conducted prior to the PreCOP25.
This declaration was presented before the plenary of PreCOP25 in front of representatives of the attending countries who are decision makers regarding climate change and also representatives of different national and international organizations.
I would like to emphasize that the ethical principles of the Earth Charter were highly taken into account both at the work tables and in the conclusions that were finally written in the final declaration, even mentioning the Earth Charter as part of the conclusion presented by citing the following: “The above outcomes are the results and commitments undertaken by the participating parties in two major consultations and in accordance to the Earth Charter: “The partnership of government, civil society and private sector is essential for effective governance.” We, representatives of the various youths of our Latin America, so vehemently ask governments to establish mechanisms for real and effective participation of young people”(Declaration of Youth of Latin America on Climate Change, 2019).
This demonstrates that, without a doubt, the pillars and ethical principles proposed by the Earth Charter are essential to take action, make decisions and identify the different local, national and global challenges. The Earth Charter principles an excellent guide to follow the path to sustainability.
It seems to me that the execution of such important exercises as is the inclusion of young people in these conferences of high importance worldwide and the availability of spaces aimed at listening to the voice of youths is extremely relevant and essential in Decision making in the face of climate change. Since, on many occasions it is this population who is most affected and the one that has been least heard throughout history and yet, we are the generation that is most struggling to save our world, to transform us into a society where respect for ecosystems prevails, a sustainable lifestyle in all areas and people increasingly aware that climate change exists and has serious consequences in the short and long term, awareness that the time we have to change our habits is very short.
Our next challenge is to continue informing about climate change and climate action joining efforts among the youth of Costa Rica, which is why, after the PreCOP, the Network of Youth and Climate Change of Costa Rica was formed, in which I participate in the project coordination and in which the Earth Charter Young Leaders are also part. Our main goals are to achieve a second Local COY next year in which more young people can participate and we can have a significant delegation representing Costa Rica in the next COP on Climate Change, to not leave anyone behind, and that all sectors of the country have a voice and be heard and heard. We also seek to foster the union of youth efforts, as well as the intersectoral and intergenerational alliance to promote projects and ideas to combat climate change.
Click here to read the full Declaration: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WbvugnaP5d9P6SEnCKRCFAtgZLGXUa90k3MrLZnW0lU/edit?usp=sharing
To learn more about the Costa Rican Youth and Climate Change Network, you can follow our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lcoycr/