by Amy Wilson and Robin Fontaine
Conference of Youth (COY) is a meeting organised by YOUNGO (Official Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC) and takes place just before the Conference of the Parties (COP) .
This year the 16th United Nations Climate Change COY took place between 28 and 31 October, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. See ClimaTalk’s interview with Jan Kairel Cabalona Guillermo which delved into the unique aspects of COY16 compared to previous years: namely, the addition of capacity and skill-building workshops. In this article, Robin Fontaine, a youth representative for Monaco, reflects on his experience at COY16.
Robin, can you explain more about the structure of COY16?
COY16 gathered around 500 youth delegates from over 140 countries at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The conference was essentially a space for climate activists from across the world to gather, exchange contacts and best practices, and to empower them to strive for greater climate ambition. It brought together young activists, students, and professionals to share their experience with the rest of the world, as well as providing a support network for young people everywhere.
There were three ceremonies (opening, closing and the Gala), as well as six plenaries and a number of topic-focused sessions. There was also a green jobs fair, climate education summit, and a dedicated space for climate-conscious art. You can see the programme of COY16 here.
YOUNGO also organised events and meetups based on policy writing, cultural exchange, capacity building, and skill building workshops. COY16 was not only a place to develop climate related skills but other more general skills like fundraising, public speaking and mobilisation.
Without a doubt, some of the best sessions were the personal ones. I attended sessions organised by delegates from Kazakhstan, Armenia and Madagascar, covering themes of biodiversity protection, water rights, and forestry, respectively. Speakers were able to share their history and experience with climate change, which were radically different from one another.
What were the biggest achievements, in your opinion, at COY16?
One of the main outputs of COY16 was the policy document drafted by young people which will be taken forward to the United Nations COP negotiations. The Global Youth Statement, written with contributions from the COY16 delegates, touches on a lot of different policy aspects ranging from energy to under-represented groups and systematic inclusion of all affected groups .
The main argument and demand from youth around the world is that young people should be actively and meaningfully included in all decision-making processes concerning climate change governance and implementation. All policies should be integrated in national and international agendas and be based on an intersectoral approach to youth inclusion on climate governance. The Global Youth Statement indicates this:
National governments enhance mechanisms at all levels of governance which guarantee that decision-making processes include all voices, especially under-represented and vulnerable communities. Thereby increasing legitimacy and ownership of climate policies and plans. Specifically, we demand inclusion in the formulation and implementation of the NDCs and NAP.”Global Youth Statement 
Additionally, COY16 is creating a library of knowledge by young people for young people on how to be active and have an impact on the climate! Isn’t that cool?
Robin, how do you hope the Global Youth Statement created at COY16 will feed into COP26?
Our last plenary session included Mr Alok Sharma and Mrs Patricia Espinosa, respectively the president of the COP26 and the head of the UNFCCC. Both were given a physical copy of our global youth demands. This is already a strong start to ensure that our policy documents will be taken into account. Further, we currently have 40,000 people who already endorsed our statement in only one day. This proves that we have support and that our ideas and vision is supported globally. If you too are interested in showing support, make sure to show your appreciation here.
More importantly, some of the COY16 delegates will also be COP negotiators for their countries. These people have had a very intense and emotional weekend, whereby they bonded and shared experience with other young people around the world. These delegates will carry the voice of the youth to their governments and to the leaders. Moreover, anyone who was present, regardless of their role in the COP, will ensure that their government is accountable and acts upon the youth requests.
Featured image courtesy of the UNFCCC’s Flickr
 COY16, 2021, What is COY, URL: https://ukcoy16.org/what-is-coy, [Last accessed 01/11/21]
 COY16, 2021, Global Youth Statement, URL: https://ukcoy16.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Global-Youth-Statement.pdf, [Last accessed 01/11/21]