Making space for young voices

Young people stand up for their future in global conference

The COP27 is the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference that meets almost every year. This year, there was something a little different at the conference: young activists. According to Euronews, “For the first time ever, children [had] an official space at a UN climate change conference in Egypt.” 

COP27 stands for the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Held in Egypt this year, world leaders and climate activists from over 200 countries gathered together to negotiate and discuss the state of climate change. Many countries were expected to “put forward strengthened targets” before COP27 according to an article by New York Times. However, due to the war in Ukraine, many countries are struggling to meet their commitments. 

The conference, which began on Sun., Nov. 6 and went to Fri., Nov. 18, was planned with themed days, and the ‘Youth and Future Generations Day’ revolved around the youth pavilion. 

The fact that “young people” were at the conference is significant, because in the past, many of them have been skeptical about the meetings. Renowned Swedish activist Greta Thunberg skipped the conference, “‘calling it a forum for ‘greenwashing’” (BBC). 

However, headline speakers and youth attendees included Vanessa Nakate from Uganda and Ayisha Siddiqa from Pakistan, and Imran Hussein from Bangladesh. 

Nakate has been a climate activist since 2018, and her home country Uganda has been subject to severe weather; this caused Nakate to realize the importance of stopping climate change. Nakate shared, “‘Climate change is more than statistics, it’s more than data points. It’s more than net-zero targets. It’s about the people, it’s about the people who are being impacted right now’” ( 

Siddiqa made a point of attending due to the devastating floods in Pakistan this summer. She shared, “‘For me, the stakes are so high that I can’t just give up hope for change’” (BBC). 

Hussein is an activist partly because his father died in a natural disaster, as his family has been dealing with disasters and their damages his whole life ( He feels that by making changes to better the environment is his way of saving future generations from experiencing what he experienced, but it is certainly not easy.

A problem that youth attendees faced was financing the trip and accommodations. The cost for accommodation alone for a week was about $4,000 according to an article by BBC, and that was not including travel, visas, or food. Hussein received grants for hotel and travel, but he could not eat at the conference. 

Activists agreed that there are still ways for the conference itself and what they discuss to be more inclusive and comprehensive. The next generation are concerned for their future; they will be the people dealing with the problems that the current generation in charge have not solved. They are fighting for a voice, and they are fighting for their future.