In Bonn: An Unmatched Opportunity To Learn

Broderick Mervyn was part of the Fiji-German Youth Exchange Programme to attend the 13th Conference of Youths (COY13) and the 23rd Session of the Conference of Parties (COP23) from 31st
19 Nov 2017 15:29
In Bonn: An Unmatched Opportunity To Learn
Broderick Mervyn with the former President of Kiribati, Anote Tong at COP23 in Bonn, Germany

Broderick Mervyn was part of the Fiji-German Youth Exchange Programme to attend the 13th Conference of Youths (COY13) and the 23rd Session of the Conference of Parties (COP23) from 31st October to 16th November held in Bonn, Germany.

He is a representative of Project Survival Pacific, a youth environmental organization in Fiji that works to safeguard the survival of the Pacific island people from the impacts of climate change.

This is his story.

UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) provided an unmatched opportunity to learn about the current environmental challenges and unique resiliency practices shared by young people with different cultures.   

Each day was filled with events from leading experts in water, technology, conflict-negotiation to agriculture and sustainability.

The experience opened my eyes to the enormity of the issues surrounding climate change, the great international efforts from communities, NGOs and governments going on around the world to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change.   

The sense of urgency and responsibility around in these participating countries was great. 

The creativity, complexity and charisma of young people completely captivated me. 

Sustainability practitioners

My experience with the delegation affirmed that our work to preserve and protect the environment is critical even in the face of other pressing issues.

The world needs informed sustainability practitioners with global perspectives.

Many young people will return home with a greater understanding of where Fiji sits internationally, and more importantly how Fiji is seen by the global community. 

The sense of urgency was enforced through meeting those whose communities are on the front line of climate change.

From delegates representing Sweden and Norway who are witnessing ice melt and rising temperatures in the Arctic, to our Pacific neighbors, including delegates from the Marshall Islands whose home is only two meters above sea level at its highest point. 

From rising sea levels to heightened temperatures, the impact of climate change endangers the very existence of island nations across the Pacific Ocean. 

Attending the COP23 has helped me continue my advocacy to promote youth participation in sustainable development discussions.

I have been participating in various side events on youth and climate change as well as connecting with youth constituents at the conference. 

Shaping the future

At one of the official side event organized by UNFCCC, there was an interesting discussion on youth participation in shaping the future of climate actions.

It was highlighted that participation is a basic right for young people, including in climate change advocacy and negotiations.

Youth participation is a pre-condition in achieving the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).  Inclusive participation will not see youth as an object or target, but more in developing a mutual partnership with young people as a subject and partner to development, to see young people as the co-owners of the future.    

I was also privileged to be part of the first ever,  Climate Law and Governance Specialisation workshop held at Bonn, Germany during COP23 which focused on raising awareness and strengthening capacity on the legal and institutional climate reforms and frameworks.

Climate warriors

For me studying law at the University of the South Pacific, this was a big boost for my experience in the law field.

Today’s leaders must have the humility and trust to acknowledge that young people have a crucial role to play. 

Young people have ideas and perspectives that will encourage our leaders to view situations differently, to come up with new and creative solutions.

Our leaders must make the effort everyday to share their skills and experiences with this new generation of climate warriors, to help them become the leaders the world will need, the leaders whom the world will depend on to save us from the greatest threat that humankind has ever faced.   

Everybody must take ownership, contribute and work together.  Remember no matter how big the challenges ahead of us, we have a new generation of leaders already emerging, ready to face these challenges head on.

Climate change is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of survival.

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