The young generation steps forward to call for comprehensive action to secure their future and save the Earth
No question, young people have brought their energy and commitment to the COP27 meeting from within Egypt and across the world. On Thursday, selected as “Youth and Future Generations Day” they brought attention to their priorities with a Global Youth Statement: Declaration for Climate Justice, presented to the UNFCCC Secretariat.
The comprehensive list of items amounts to a kind of alternative Green New Deal, covering everything from food and agriculture to health, education and finance. Cultural heritages must be respected and protected, they urge, and there is a call for climate empowerment to be centre stage in the deliberations.
Earlier in the week, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, and President of COP27, Sameh Shoukry, rounded off a speech at a press conference with unscripted remarks in which he paid tribute to the dedication and motivation of young participants in climate discussions.
Despite their evident scepticism about our intentions, he commented, the young had “energised” him.
“The voice of youth has to be amplified at COP27 and beyond…. For them, I think we should all do our very best.”
Nurturing hearts, educating minds
On Wednesday, members of the Brahma Kumari (BK) team Aneta Loj, Piyush Ahuja and Shantanu Mandal (below) presented an engaging workshop, Living Values Education: Caring for the Earth, at the Education Hub.
This joyful and interactive event attracted numerous young people to listen, exchange views and mime a chosen value during an hour of thoughtful fun.
Their preferred value turned out to be respect, with empathy coming in close behind. But perhaps it was love that won the day!
Participants were engaged and energised: “I’m so thrilled to hear you talking of values,” said one.
The workshop is based on a values-based education programme developed by Unicef and the BKs. Since its inception in the 1990s, it has expanded to cover the age range from 3 years to young adult, with schools in some 40 countries using the programme.
Materials are created by educators for educators. They place nurturing the whole person at their heart, embracing intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical needs.
“It’s not about teaching,” explained Aneta, “it’s about becoming, by nurturing hearts and educating minds. To learn means to become.”
The team introduced a new, 180-page book – “Caring for the Earth” – released in time for COP27. For more on the programme, see: www.livingvalues.net
Exhibition focuses on the BK Environment Initiative
Meanwhile, at stand 43 in the Blue Zone, international coordinator of the BK Environment Initiative Sonja Ohlsson said passers-by were interested to discuss the spiritual approach to environmental awareness and action.
Seen below, with two visitors to the stand, Sonja commented: “We have information, such as our ‘Ten Ways to Change the World’ campaign, and videos running on screens. Nearly everyone who passes by stops to take an eco-card and have a good chat. Many say: “You’ve made my day!”
Many visitors are intrigued by the BKs’ environmental projects, with particular interest in the ‘India One’ Solar Thermal Power Plant, which produces sufficient electricity to sustain 25,000 people at the headquarters in Mt Abu, India.
“When our perspective of climate change is explained, people find it really interesting” said BK Birajith Baskaran: “One 16-year-old from the US said: ‘I really like this, hearing it gives me hope’. At the end, the delegates are also asked to scan the QR code so that they can attend sessions in the pavilions. Those who receive the ‘Ten Ways to Change The World’ poster really love the information it has".
Finally, Africa featured strongly in events on Wednesday, Africa Day. Speakers at a press conference hosted by the Worldwide Fund for Nature noted that over 100 million Africans are threatened by rising sea levels, and one in five are food insecure. They urged the creation of an Action Plan for Africa to ensure food system transformation, and the inclusion of Africans’ concerns in other nations’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).