Cop28: UAE launches drive to ensure youths are at centre of crucial summit

UAE will sponsor 100 young delegates to attend climate conference

Dr Sultan Al Jaber speaking at the Road to Cop28 launch event at Al Wasl Plaza on Thursday. Pawan Singh / The National
Powered by automated translation

The UAE is spearheading an initiative to ensure youths are at the heart of the fight against climate change.

The country is to sponsor 100 international youth delegates to attend the crucial Cop28 climate summit in Dubai.

It will prioritise those from the least developed countries, small island developing states, indigenous peoples and other minority groups from across the world.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and President-designate of Cop28, on Wednesday unveiled the drive at Expo City Dubai, where he addressed climate advocates, people of determination, foreign dignitaries and business leaders at Al Wasl Plaza.

“I am excited to announce the International Youth Climate Delegate Programme for Cop28,” said Dr Al Jaber, whose job it is to guide and shape the crucial talks.

“This initiative will give a special focus to least developed countries and small island states. And it will give all participants the training, resources and opportunity to advocate on behalf of their countries and communities,” he said.

“We may not know what the future holds ─ but we know who holds the future. It is you — our young people.”

Driving change

The drive will be overseen by the Cop28 Youth Climate Champion team in partnership with Youngo, the youth arm of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It aims to ensure youth perspectives are the heart of global policymaking and become a role model for future Cops.

Those who make the grade will gain a front-row seat to climate negotiations, gain a deeper understanding of the Cop process and participate in the crucial talks.

Participants must be between 18 and 35, demonstrate a commitment to climate issues and ideally have experience in the area.

Applications opened on Wednesday and close on April 7. Anyone interested can apply on

“Everywhere I go, I make a point of meeting young people and I’m encouraged by what I hear time and again,” said Dr Al Jaber.

“You want to be involved. You want to be included. You want to contribute. You want to make a difference.”

Dr Al Jaber also called on all parties of the UNFCCC to “include young people in your delegations and give them the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way”.

It came on the day the UAE formally fired the starting gun for the journey to Cop28.

The day-long event at Expo City Dubai sought to build momentum with only eight months to go before the key climate summit from November 30 to December 12.

A conversation between Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development and Cop28 Youth Climate Champion; Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-level Champion; Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; and Shreya KC, a Nepalese representative for Youngo, the official youth arm of the UNFCCC, outlined the challenge to cut emissions.

They also discussed how measures to protect nature are crucial to the fight and how those most vulnerable to climate change need to have their voice heard at the summit.

Workshops and debates

In line with the announcement, the event had a strong emphasis on youths. It featured climate workshops for schoolchildren, youth debates on climate change, a sustainable marketplace, farming and cooking stations and intergenerational dialogue with senior citizens.

It drew involvement from schools, universities, youth climate advocates, sustainable farmers and key actors to galvanise action ahead of the crucial climate talks.

“As future leaders, future scientists, future entrepreneurs and future climate activists, your energy and your youth is what will make the difference,” Dr Al Jaber told the audience at Al Wasl Plaza.

“Learn as much as you can about the climate challenge. Bring your passion, your focus and your courage to the task of meeting that challenge and turn it into an opportunity.

You can bring the energy that turns problems into possibilities. We are counting on you to help deliver real results. Together, let’s connect minds and co-create a better future for all.”

Last year’s Cop climate summit in Egypt resulted in the creation of a loss and damage fund that aims to help developing countries deal with the consequences of climate change.

However, questions remain about how it will operate and who pays into the fund are set be addressed at Cop28.

The Dubai summit will also seek to hasten progress on cutting emissions and scale up funding for adaptation measures.

It will also feature, for the first time, what is known as a “global stocktake”. This is will be the first assessment of global progress on tackling climate change since the 2015 Paris agreement.

All these strands of climate talks set the scene for a tough summit starting in November.

Cop28 in UAE: Three things to watch out for

Cop28 in UAE: Three things to watch out for
Updated: March 16, 2023, 7:08 AM