The Global Youth Forum on Climate Change (GYFCC) was first organized in 2016 by SLYCAN Trust in partnership with the Climate Change Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment of Sri Lanka under the Sri Lanka Next programme as well as other national and international partners. The Global Youth Forum has fostered increasing youth participation and focuses on sharing knowledge on key climate change issues ,providing a platform for youth to propose ideas on climate action and research, and supporting youth to develop and improve project proposals through capacity-building and networking. The Forum includes partners and collaborators from national ministries, international and local think tanks, CSOs, NGOs, and research institutions. The goal of the Global Youth Forum is to provide a platform for young climate activists, leaders, youth organizations, and stake holders to speak on and discuss issues and the way forward for climate change action as well as ongoing national and international climate discussions.
The impacts of climate change are increasingly undermining human wellbeing, livelihoods, and sustainable development efforts, especially in developing countries. As projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, weather-related disasters, and slow-onset impacts such as sea level rise. In addition, climate and disaster risks aggravate existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities of communities and threatens them with food and water insecurity, malnutrition, displacement, diseases, ecosystem degradation, and loss of livelihoods.
To work toward the Sustainable Development Goals and guarantee an equitable, healthy, and prosperous future for today’s youth, it is imperative to address these risks. Risk prevention, reduction, transfer, and retention measures can be part of a robust risk management framework and help communities adapt to climate change or reduce their losses and damages. Possible action areas include creating awareness, building capacities, increasing access to financial and technical resources, innovation and education, reducation, reduction of underlying risk factors through climate-related risk planning processes, and strengthening of disaster preparedness.
A recent report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that one million animal and plant species are currently threatened by extinction. Climate change and anthropogenic activities impact biodiversity in both coastal and terrestrial ecosystems on a global scale and lead to their rapid destruction and degradation. Threats to biodiversity include the expansion of urban areas, deforestation of land for agriculture and livestock purposes, pollution, overfishing and poaching, forced migration, and climate change impacts.
Diversity in animal and plant species is key for environmental sustainability and healthy ecosystems that can withstand and recover from the effects of climate change and disasters. Ecosystems also supply oxygen, clean water, plant pollination, and many other services vital for human survival. Conserving and restoring biodiversity is therefore crucial to ensure a just, equitable, and prosperous future that will benefit humans and nature alike.
Food systems encompass the entire supply chain of food production, from processing to distribution and from consumption to disposal. However, current food systems are by no means ideal. Some of their issues include complexity, high dependency on imports, fossil fuel usage, and fragile interconnections that are vulnerable to shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also market allocation issues, leading to a quarter of food globally going uneaten while nearly a billion humans suffer from chronic hunger or undernourishment.
Regarding climate change, food systems are vulnerable to its impacts while at the same time contributing high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions through agriculture and animal production, deforestation, land-use changes etc. It is vital to transform today’s food systems to become more sustainable, regenerative, and resilient while delivering food security for all communities. Youth can play a huge role in making this transformation a focal point for development processes and work toward better food systems through participatory and inclusive action.
Oceans and major seas cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface. They are home to coastal and marine ecosystems including sand dune systems, freshwater, saltwater, nearshore, coastal, and open ocean ecosystems that provide food for billions of people, sustain livelihoods, act as natural shoreline protection against storms and floods, support tourism opportunities, and maintain basic global life support systems.
Climate change and anthropogenic activities significantly contribute to coastal degradation and the loss of coastal and marine ecosystems. Major drivers of this change include ocean warming and acidification, destructive fishing practices, pollution, population growth, unsustainable tourism, and the increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. The conservation and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems requires local, regional, and global action at all decision-making levels. It is important to consider inclusive stakeholder engagement that gives a voice to vulnerable communities and youth and allows them to be active participants in decision-making processes as well as on the ground.