Sri Lanka’s youth participate in UN Climate Change Conference

March 2, 2023

SLYCAN Trust hosted a Post-COP Youth Debrief on 2 December, following a successful Pre-COP Youth Forum held on 28 October, in Colombo, with the aim of sharing updates from youth engagement during the 17th Conference of Youth (COY) and the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as moving forward partnerships created for scaling-up youth engagement in climate action in Sri Lanka.

COY17 and COP27 took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from 2 to 20 November. During the events, representatives of the SLYCAN Trust Youth team – Kavindu Ediriweera, Ashan Karunanda, Sajani Ranasinghe, and Mayantha Madurasinghe – had the opportunity to interact with many stakeholders, including other like-minded youth, policymakers, and experts on different thematic areas related to climate change. 

They also engaged in the climate negotiation process and participated in or addressed events, sharing good practices and lessons learned from youth engagement in climate policy and action in Sri Lanka.

SLYCAN Trust Youth hosted or contributed to more than 20 events as well as climate negotiations. These events were aimed at raising awareness and climate literacy as well as showcasing climate action by youth and were conducted together with many partners, including governments, civil society, academia, UN entities, youth, and private sector stakeholders.

The SLYCAN Trust Youth team members shared their experiences and key takeaways from the UN Climate Conference with youth attending the post-COP Youth Debrief. 

Participant Sajani Ranasinghe noted that she appreciated the experience as it had shown her how international negotiation processes were conducted and how different countries play a role in guiding global decision-making on climate action.

“It was a unique experience for me, as it was my first participation in an event of this scale. I was quite impressed by the co-facilitators of the negotiations and their role in contributing to reaching a consensus with over 190 Parties negotiating. It is not an easy task,” she added.

Another member of the team who attended the conference, Mayantha Madurasinghe, spoke on the importance of collaboration with young people from all over the world.

“In discussions surrounding climate action, youth bring new knowledge and experiences as well as the enthusiasm, commitment, and energy necessary to drive towards innovative action. It was a privilege to engage and collaborate with youth from across the world. It was a very positive and eye-opening experience,” he said.

Ashan Karunananda, sharing his experience of the conference as a good platform to meet and engage with youth across the globe, said: “I was able to engage in activities focused on conservation and climate action. This helped to identify opportunities for youth engagement in conservation and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems. The Global Youth Forum on Climate Change 2022/2023 organised by SLYCAN Trust Youth will be an opportunity for youth to engage and share these success stories to further enhance the conservation and restoration process.”

Kavindu Ediriweera, who leads the Youth Programme at SLYCAN Trust, was also a delegate at the UN Climate Conference. He highlighted the importance of partnerships and knowledge-sharing, which contribute to enhancing youth engagement in climate policy and action.

“Partnerships with other youth and like-minded organisations provide opportunities to find solutions to climate change impacts. Activities related to Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) under the UNFCCC can provide opportunities to better engage with youth in national and global climate action that build on youth-led solutions to climate risks,” he pointed out.

Following the inputs from those who attended COY17 and COP27, participants of the Youth Debrief engaged in group discussions and an open dialogue. They focused on ways to better engage youth in climate processes and highlighted how educating youth could contribute to spreading more awareness about the urgency of climate action, promoting and engaging in processes to scale-up accountable processes, and actively engaging in evidence generation on climate change and research studies that support youth engagement in meaningful climate action. 

These suggestions will be integrated into the activities of the Global Youth Forum on Climate Change organised by SLYCAN Trust Youth.

Participants at the COP27 Youth Debrief sharing the key insights from break-out groups on youth engagement in climate action

Director - Kavindu Ediriweera, Director - Youth Programme at SLYCAN Trust speaking at the event

Note: This article has been published on The Sunday Times and is available here.

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About the Author

SLYCAN Trust is a non-profit think tank. It has been a registered legal entity in the form of a trust since 2016, and a guarantee limited company since 2019. The entities focus on the thematic areas of climate change, adaptation and resilience, sustainable development, environmental conservation and restoration, social justice, and animal welfare. SLYCAN Trust’s activities include legal and policy research, education and awareness creation, capacity building and training, and implementation of ground level action. SLYCAN Trust aims to facilitate and contribute to multi-stakeholder driven, inclusive and participatory actions for a sustainable and resilient future for all.