CYD side event success

Written by Raili Lakanen

This morning, after a 5:45 am wake-up call, a quick breakfast and a long bus ride to Cancun Messe, we were all excited to receive our accreditation badges, check out the venue and attend events. It has been a day full of activity, with many side events, actions, and meetings in which to participate.  I think it’s safe to say that the CYD burst onto the COP 16 scene with enthusiasm to make up for the lost days – and that we left quite the positive impression.

The Canadian Youth Delegation co-hosted a side event at COP 16

Malkolm and Audrey speak at the side event

Soon after arriving around 8:00 am, the head negotiator for the Canadian Delegation came over to introduce himself to the members of the CYD. We were meeting at our booth, which functions both as a home base and a presentation venue for our delegation. The booth is conveniently located in the Young and Future Generations area, a strategic spot to liaise, plan and collaborate on actions and events with other youth delegates.

Our first official event of the morning was our joint side event with two youth delegation partners, SustainUS and Clean Energy Nepal. The event, titled “U.S.A., Canadian and South Asian youth climate perspectives, local solutions and actions” was a lively panel discussion and question period with an opportunity to encourage dialogue among participants. Our own Marie-Marguerite Sabongui graciously accepted the position of moderator mere hours before the event, after a cancellation from another delegation, and provided engaging introductory and concluding remarks for the event. The event was particularly important as the major youth-led side event on Young and Future Generations Day and functioned as the opening ceremony for other events.

The Canadian Youth Delegation was well-represented on the panel by Audrey Yank and Malkolm Boothroyd, who passionately spoke about the impacts of climate change on their home communities. They also depicted the ways in which Canadian youth are committed to taking action on climate change issues, especially in the absence of federal government leadership. Malkolm’s descriptions and heartfelt stories from his numerous bike rides (including rides to Ottawa, Washington, DC, and notably, Cancun – from the Yukon!), demonstrated his dedication to environmental issues and his willingness to act on his beliefs. Malkolm also provided articulate answers to a number of questions from the audience; his reply that we should try to focus more on inter-personal relationships, take pleasure in our experiences and spend more time outside, rather than focusing on material consumption and accumulation, seemed to strike a chord with the international audience.

Audrey contributed a synopsis of the various initiatives led by youth organizations in Canada. She highlighted organizations working toward grassroots community-based solutions, as well as those aiming to affect policy and political decisions. Audrey presented in English and French, to demonstrate the bilingual nature of our delegation and our commitment to representing the diverse opinions and experiences of our country. After presenting, Audrey spoke at a press briefing entitled “Youth Scientists presentation and discussion – What is the future of climate science?” Needless to say, it was a very busy day for this remarkable CYDer!

Throughout the side event, the SustainUS presenters spoke about encouraging young people in the U.S.A. to vote and support green energy campaigns. Youth delegates from Nepal and Sri Lanka discussed collaborative strategies among South Asian youth to engage in policy decisions that affect climate change.

The side event was developed as an opportunity for youth from different delegations to come together and share their perspectives on climate change issues and exchange ideas to strengthen our national and local campaigns. I hope attendees will stop by our CYD booth over the next few days to continue the conversation.

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