How did the project originate?
The climate crisis is an increasing threat to human rights. Its impacts exacerbate pre-existing inequalities and affect vulnerable groups most acutely. However, too often, climate policy ignores or does not focus on this connection enough. The campaign “World’s Youth for Climate Justice” (WYCJ) is contributing to the progressive development of policymaking and international law to embrace climate justice and incorporate human rights. We are campaigning globally to support the island state of Vanuatu in achieving an Advisory Opinion from the world’s highest court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Such a statement by the ICJ would establish a connection between human rights law and environmental law, provide impetus and guidance for national and regional climate policy and urge states to work towards more ambitious and just climate action. Being a Pacific Island State, Vanuatu belongs to one of the regions most affected by the climate crisis.
What was its inspiration?
Our campaign was started by “Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change”, and has since grown to include young activists from all over the world. We are mobilizing state and non-state actors, ultimately aiming to reach enough governments to secure a simple majority in support of Vanuatu’s request in the United Nations General Assembly. Rather than starting from scratch, we are aiming to connect existing movements to our cause and thus contribute to global efforts for climate justice. Further, we are reaching out to individuals or organizations with a strong reputation in the field of international climate law and human rights law, and are inviting them to join as “Friends of the Initiative”. Within our campaign we are working in regional groups as well as a number of subgroups, ranging from communications and academic publishing, to finances and movement building.
What was/is difficult about the project?
Sometimes we get frustrated by the slow speed at which international diplomacy moves. Too often, international climate negotiations have failed and national interests have gotten in the way of international cooperation. At times, the scale of this project seems daunting.
What was/is the biggest success?
Advisory Opinion campaigns have been successful in the past. Our campaign is growing, and we are receiving support for our efforts from many places. It is very motivating to work on the World’s Youth for Climate Justice campaign together with many passionate young people. Together we are staying hopeful and idealistic.
Helen is a college student from Germany. With WYCJ, she is working on the European regional team and is in charge of fundraising. She is currently working towards her bachelor’s degree in Human Ecology, focusing on food systems, climate justice and education.