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NEWS: Youth climate leaders issue priorities for economic recovery from Covid-19

On Saturday, 6 February, the United Nations Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change released its Global Youth Outreach Outcome Report. This report is the outcome of efforts by the Group to bring together the views of young climate leaders around the world on the Six climate-positive actions to help rebuild economies from the Covid-19 pandemic. Priyanka Ukabhai of CDKN reports.

The Six climate-positive actions outlined in UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres’ Climate Strategy are:

  1. Invest in green jobs.
  2. No bailout for polluting industries.
  3. End fossil fuel subsidies.
  4. Climate in all decisions (take climate risks and opportunities into account in all financial and policy decisions).
  5. Work together.
  6. Leave no one behind (fair and inclusive transition to a carbon neutral economy).

The Global Youth Outreach Report establishes the diverse perspectives of young climate leaders regarding what they recommend as ‘success’ in the implementation of the Six climate-positive actions.

It also details how relevant stakeholders, such as governments and the wider UN community, can be held accountable in the pathway to recovering better.

First, the report provides the young people’s perspective on the Six climate-positive actions. They call for the following further steps, to make the six action areas more effective:

  • There is no internationally agreed upon taxonomy of green jobs and so progress on this agenda may be undermined by greenwashing. The youth authors call for governments and international actors to deliver scalable educational programmes and packages for green entrepreneurs.
  • The youth leaders express doubts about governments’ likelihood to implement the action on ‘No bailout for polluting industries,’ especially as there are no clear definitions and metrics in place for what formally qualifies as a ‘polluting industry.’
  • The young people note that the action on ‘Working together’ must appreciate intersectionality through intergenerational dialogue, racially diverse discussions, inclusion of LGBTQ+, indigenous and traditional people, refugees and people with special needs.
  • Finally, the pathway towards a ‘Net zero emission transition’ must be threefold, with responsibilities delegated to government, civil society and the private sector.

Second, this report calls on the international community to meaningfully commit to eight actions in the context of the Six climate-positive actions to help rebuild economies from the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Respecting, recognising and enforcing the rights of indigenous people and local communities.
  • Involving indigenous and local communities as an integral part of the climate action decision-making process.
  • Acknowledging and defending the full potential of oceans to tackle the climate crisis.
  • Protecting our forests and ecosystems through stronger laws based on the best relevant practices.
  • Promoting through smart regulation the importance of value chains capable of spearheading economic and social development.
  • Recognising the link between the international debt problem and climate action.
  • Creating binding international guidelines for banks and asset managers.
  • Establishing a global multi-stakeholder partnership committed to providing a Green Youth Guarantee to the Generation Covid.

This report acts as an important tool, highlighting young people’s key advocacy points ahead of COP26 to building on the momentum of Covid-19 recovery efforts. Furthermore, it is clear that the Youth Advisory Group has fulfilled the Secretary General’s call to young people to keep driving climate action forward.

Further reading

Read the original UN Secretary General’s report: Six climate-positive actions to help rebuild economies from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read the Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change’s response: Global Youth Outreach Outcome Report.

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