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Cities bring together the world’s youth on climate change

Mayor of London and C40 Chair Sadiq Khan with youth climate leaders at the 2022 C40 World Mayor Summit in Buenos Aires. © Franco Fafasuli/C40

A global coalition of city mayors has launched a new network designed to help connect young climate activists across the globe.

C40 Cities says its new twin-pronged initiative will also help bring together policymakers and city leaders to learn more about how to engage more effectively with young people on climate issues.

Mark Watts, Executive Director, says the ‘energy and vision of youth activists will continue to shape climate action in cities and across the climate movement at large’, and ultimately contribute to a ‘cleaner, greener and healthier environment’ for the world’s cities.

These two parallel initiatives, the C40 Youth Engagement Network (CYEN) and C40 Youth Hub, build on the substantial work already being done by C40 Cities on climate change and the environment, which complements a growing movement amongst young people set on making their voices heard.

‘Engage with young people on climate issues’

More than 100 young climate leaders are already part of the C40 Youth Hub, and more than 15 cities have joined CYEN, through which they can access peer-to-peer exchanges and other resources to support the design and implementation of impactful youth engagement strategies in climate action. More are expected, as C40 continues to engage with youth and city leaders around the globe on science-driven, locally-led climate action.

The launch of these global networks is taking place during London Climate Action Week (24 June to 2 July), an annual event now in its fifth years which brings together the city’s world-leading array of climate professionals and communities.

The mayors of cities involved have been vociferous in their support for the new youth-focused networks. One of those is Sally Cap, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, who said: “Melbourne is proud to be one of the first cities joining the C40 City Youth Engagement Network. We know young people in Melbourne care deeply about climate change, and want to be a part of bold climate action initiatives and see meaningful change. They play a vital role, as they not only bring their diverse experiences and viewpoints, but they will also inherit the outcomes of these decisions as the future custodians of our cities.”

‘We know young people care deeply about climate change’

Karen Bass, Mayor of Los Angeles, United States, said: “I want to thank C40 for inviting Los Angeles to participate in the C40 City Youth Engagement Network. By engaging youth in city-led climate actions, we are not only investing in a more sustainable future, but also empowering the future generations of change agents and environmental stewards our communities so desperately need. Their voices matter and we need to stand ready to listen, learn and act beside them.”

C40 Cities reflects on initiatives such as the ‘school strike for climate; movement, which has brought more than 10 million people onto the streets globally to demand climate action. It also points to a US study which found that people who report being familiar with the Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg are more willing to take action on climate themselves. Children and young people, it adds, have also brought cases before the UNThe European Court of Human Rights, The Inter-American Commission On Human Rights, and to state and country-level courts demanding action on climate in countries such as Germany, Colombia, the United States, Australia, Peru, the UK, Canada, Austria, IndiaIndonesiaEcuador, and Pakistan.

In addition, city governments are also working with young people through C40’s Students Reinventing Cities and Schools Reinventing Cities competitions, which train the next generation of professionals in sustainable urban development. Young people are invited to reimagine real-life urban spaces and devise solutions to some of the most pressing urban climate challenges, transforming places into green and thriving neighbourhoods.

Five C40 cities – Buenos Aires, London, Medellín, New York City and Quezon City – have taken part in the Schools Reinventing Cities competition this year, which is run in partnership with Minecraft Education.

‘Energy & vision of youth will continue to shape climate action’

In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has been inviting students to submit their ideas to the Design Future London competition for a ‘fairer, greener and more prosperous’ Croydon High Street in the south of the city. Over 4,000 people have so far voted for the many ‘remarkable ideas’ that have been put forward.

Mark Watts of C40 Cities said: “The energy and vision of youth activists will continue to shape climate action in cities and across the climate movement at large, bringing innovative, entrepreneurial and out-of-the-box perspectives to the work of ending the fossil fuel era and delivering climate justice.

“I look forward to seeing how these two exciting initiatives develop and contribute to securing a cleaner, greener, and healthier environment for the more than half the world’s population that lives in cities.

Author: Simon Weedy

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