Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Article 6 focuses on education, training and public awareness. First established in 2002, it creates a mandate for climate change education across the globe and is a key campaigning area for youth at the talks. Camilla Born from the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) reports back on the progress that has been won in the article 6 element of the negotiations here at COP18 in Doha.

Under the UNFCCC Article 6 focuses on education, training and public awareness. First established in 2002, it creates a mandate for climate change education across the globe. Under Article 6, every country in the world is expected to work with a diverse range of stakeholders to deliver formal and non-formal education on climate change.

The young people here in Doha know the importance of education all too well; after all, we wouldn’t be here as part of the solution to tackling climate change without it.  Armed with this knowledge, young people at COP18 created policy positions, carried out actions and actively engaged with negotiators.

We would not take no for an answer. In the end our persistence paid off. Young people were instrumental in creating stronger and more resilient policy.

Outcomes

Ahead of COP the Article 6 working group reached out to our negotiator contacts and invited them to ‘get an A in Article 6’.  The response was largely sceptical and with two, then three, texts on the table, talks in Doha didn’t begin well.   We struggled to make contact with negotiators to begin with, but in the end our push for focal points to ensure accountability and measurement during implementation were heard.  The text is not quite as strong as we would have liked but through interaction with the EU, Dominican Republic, Japan and the secretariat we were able to make significant improvements.  The negotiators finalised the Doha work programme as proposed by G77 and China and it was passed at the SBI (the Subsidiary Body for Implementation; penultimate hurdle before it is finally passed by the negotiations as a whole)!

Group photo after agreement on Doha work programme on Article 6

Verdict

The Doha work programme outlines how Article 6 will work in practice over over the next eight years.  A lot can happen in 8 years and young people will need to grow stronger than ever to stand a chance in the fight against climate change.  The work programme recognises that education is a key tool in responding to climate change.  It reaffirms the need to promote effective engagement on education with multiple stakeholders from youth, to women, to NGO’s.  Using national focal points as an accountability mechanism, it has a reasonable amount of safe guard measurements but unfortunately falls short on binding language. Sadly, there are still far too many loopholes for countries to jump through.  In a worst-case scenario this means that Article 6 could be simply interpreted as a suggestion which could be ignored, rather than a mandate which is obligatory. With so much potential, civil society will need to be fighting our corner to make the most of Article 6.

What’s next for Article 6?

The real test for Doha work programme is still to come.  Only with effective implementation can these negotiations be hailed a success.  Article 6 has the potential to equip young people (along with many other stakeholders) with the skills to lift people out of crisis, to mitigate and adapt to climate change.   With this in mind the Article 6 working group are making plans to link up with the International Youth Climate Movement (IYCM) to hold our national representatives to account on Article 6.  We will be asking members of the IYCM to either push their governments to appoint a focal point, or if they are lucky enough to have one, engage with them to make sure they are doing their jobs.  Advocacy at the UNFCCC is one thing but to secure a successful output we must maintain a sustained effort.   It’s a crucial aspect of preventing catastrophic climate change; only by educating everyone can we hope that people will take the steps needed to make a difference.

Lessons for the future

Although it wasn’t easy at times, we achieved a good level of youth engagement.  We used various tactics: emailing, pouncing in corridors, lurking outside meeting rooms, giving out flyers and arranging face-to-face meetings.  However, what really helped us this year was that we were able to build on existing relationships formed by previous YOUNGO delegates. These relationships not only brought credibility to our message but made us more visible. Increasing visibility meant that our message was harder to forget.

We also had great feedback from the secretariat who admired our attempts to make ‘sensible policy suggestions’ for specific elements of the text.  Although inserting the odd youth relevant wording is incredibly important, suggesting alternative ‘realistic’ framing, mechanisms and ideas can have a real impact too.  Having said that, I think this was probably only made possible due to the hard work of previous incarnations of the Article 6 working group.  We were working with a text that already had a strong ethos; we were just working to make it more effective in practice.

Written by Camilla Born

Camilla Born

Camilla is a member of the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) delegation and has been working with the YOUNGO Article 6 working group since earlier this year.