It’s that time of the year again when negotiators, politicians, civil society and youth gather together to try – once again – to create an agreement that will tackle the growing climate change crisis. As the talks resumed once again – this year in Lima, Peru – youth took the floor at the opening plenary, and the opening of the SBI and ADP talks. Dewy Sacayan provides transcripts of those interventions here.

Opening Plenary – Juan Jose Vazquez Milling

Juan - OpeningDistinguished Delegates,

My name is Juan Jesus Vazquez Milling and I speak for YOUNGO, the Youth constituency of UNFCCC. I thus speak for the youth of the world, more than half the world’s population.

Last year, we began COP19 in the shadow of an unprecedented climate disaster, Typhoon Haiyan. Ten thousand innocent people died. I ask you all, if this is our present, what will our future be like?

We ended COP19 with an unprecedented alliance, the #volveremos walkout. We declared that we would walk away to build our movements back home – and we did. September saw an unprecedented mass mobilization in the People’s Climate March.

Now, we are back – with the largest secular fast in history underway today. Tens of thousands fast worldwide today. These events show there is massive support all over the world far an AMBITIOUS agreement in Paris. Please give the people of the world, the people back home in your countries what they ask for. What they cry out for.

Here at COP20, with Paris approaching fast, we stand at a crossroad. In choosing the path we want to follow we believe it is important that we remind ourselves of the fundamentals that bind all of us together all of us here in the room, all of the people back home, all life on earth.

There is division in the world. There are wars raging as we speak. And it’s saddening. But we are all here with the same ultimate goal. To solve climate change and secure a healthy planet for us and future generations to live on and live meaningful healthy lives. We are united. Please let this knowledge, feeling of unity, and respect for human rights guide our choices and influence the direction we choose to take at this important crossroads. There is no going back and the journey must begin today, with all of us, together.

Now at COP20 we have the opportunity to really achieve progress. We, the youth of planet Earth ask our leaders to give us the most pleasant surprise imaginable. We ask you to exceed our expectations by creating a genuine pathway to a safe, healthy, prosperous and zero-carbon world. We must address the extraction of oil, coal and gas directly – an issue that is strangely lacking from the UNFCCC so far. It is not enough to pay lip service to reducing emissions while continuing to support more fossil extraction.

Listen to us, your citizens, your children, and the most important, listen to our Pacha Mama. At the local and national level, include youth voices in decision-making processes.

Thank you. 


Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) – Dewy Sacayan

Screenshot 2014-12-03 10.36.37Tena koutou, my name is Dewy Sacayan. Coming into COP20, I have two identities. While my home is now in New Zealand, my heart also lays with vulnerable developing countries, such as the Philippines where I was born and where my family still lives. Last year, I was in Tacloban, Philippines when the super typhoon Haiyan hit. In Tacloban, I saw the devastating impacts of climate change to land, livelihood and life. I saw my people hurting.

Certain countries have the capacity and responsibility to help these vulnerable states mitigate and adapt to climate change but they are not doing so. They talk the talk but do not walk the walk.

Ambition is only effective if it is implemented.

The job of the SBI is a crucial one and should be seen as a body that has an important role in informing the operations of the ADP. The 2015 agreement cannot repeat the same mistakes in implementation that the Kyoto Protocol and Convention have made.  A key example of this can be drawn from the recent review of Kyoto targets.

I’m not here to finger point, but there are clearly major loopholes in implementation that should not stay within this forum.

If carbon markets are going to be a part of the framework for various approaches, it must have clear and stringent rules on double counting.

If pledges under the ADP are going to be nationally-determined, then parties must focus on drawing lessons from the SBI to the ADP.

If Parties are going to put forward such weak commitments, then we must ensure that there is a principle of non-regression.

The youth urge the parties who have not put forward nationally appropriate mitigation actions to do so as soon as possible. The SBI must critically review implementation under existing bodies, as well as produce a report with clear recommendations. If we do not learn from the mistakes of the past then we will be doomed to repeat them as we have done for the past two decades. Nga mihi nui.


Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) – Claudel P-Desrosiers

Claudel - ADPMr Co-Chairs, Distinguished Delegates,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of YOUNGO and of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations. My name is Claudel, and I am a medical student. By 2020, the time the 2015 Agreement is expected to enter into force, I will be a doctor and be called upon to care for the population’s health. This will be an impossible task if the ADP keeps falling behind its mandate.

Some of the greatest impacts of climate change for the current and future generations will be on our health and on our well-being. It is crucial that the INDCs include a clear assessment of the health co-benefits associated with mitigation and adaptation activities, especially in relations to Articles 30a and 31d of the ADP draft. Health gains, if well evaluated and monitored, will offset a significant part of the costs of shifting to a low-carbon system.

We call on INCDs to include all the elements of the Durban mandate, as an agreement that is as much about finance, technology transfer, capacity building, transparency of actions and adaptation, that it is about mitigation. Furthermore, we ask for parties to use a discount rate of 0%, as to not discount the lives of future generations and to strive for intergenerational equity.

We call on Parties to include clear, equitable, ambitious contributions to get to zero: zero carbon emissions by 2050. This has to be included as a key element of the preamble of the ADP text. Without the distorting effect of the discount rate and with consideration of health co-benefits, commitments will finally be seen as opportunities. INDCs are a matter of leadership, a matter of a commitment for healthier, more resilient and more sustainable societies.

On behalf of the youth and of all my future patients, I am asking you today to help ensure that COP20 puts us on track towards a global agreement that will acknowledge and respect the common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities of countries, an agreement that will deliver rapid and sustained emissions reductions to stay below 1.5C and to protect our health and those of the future generations.

Written by Ellie Hopkins

Ellie Hopkins

Ellie is a multi-award winning campaigner on issues ranging from education to mental health and nuclear disarmament. In recent years Ellie has focused on climate change, working with young people as a trainer, campaigner and as Director of the UK Youth Climate Coalition. With an academic background in international development, Ellie is the Youth Policy Labs' chief campaigner.