Creation Care

Youth Leadership in Climate Negotiations: LCOY and COP 28

December 1, 2023
Creation Care

By Coco de Marneffe

In October, I had the opportunity to go to Washington DC and attend the UN Climate Change Local Conference of Youth (LCOY), which is an annual event under the banner of YOUNGO, the official children and youth constituency. At this event, 150 delegates including myself collaborated to create the U.S. National Youth Climate Statement. This statement is compiled with other national and regional inputs at the Global Conference of Youth to be fed into the climate negotiations at COP28. Meeting the other delegates allowed me to engage with youth who have thought deeply about climate justice issues from different perspectives. 

My personal experience with climate advocacy began during Grace Year, an interfaith fellowship affiliated with Episcopal Service Corps. Through this fellowship, I had the opportunity to work at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and the Jean Krulis Teaching Garden. I worked with farms and gardens in the Hudson Valley and learned about the connection between food insecurity, regenerative agricultural, and sustainable gardening practices. I was also able to continue doing academic research about the indigenous stewardship of water in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, which culminated in a presentation at the Association of Environmental Sciences and Studies Conference in July. During Grace Year, in November of 2022, I was honored to attend COP27 on the delegation of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. My time with Grace Year and on the Episcopal Delegation allowed me to experience interfaith advocacy on the local and global scale. Through Grace Year I learned how to contribute to local environmental efforts and through attending COP27 I began to understand the role of the Church and other observer organizations in affecting global change. 

When I learned of LCOY, hosted by UN observer YOUNGO, I was excited to be involved in multiple advocacy spaces and engage with policy advocacy on a national level. Connecting with fellow youth advocates allowed me to learn more about UN policy in a low-stakes environment with my peers. To construct the National Youth Statement, delegates discussed Mitigation, Adaptation, and Just Transition. The conference focused on education, advocacy and honoring individual perspectives in making policy. My experience at LCOY, specifically on the Adaptation team, will allow me to better participate in the advocacy at COP28 as part of the Episcopal delegation. I am excited to use what I’ve learned to contribute to the Adaptation workstream. The Episcopal Church, through delegations and young adult programs, nurtures and uplifts the voices of youth in the climate advocacy space.  

The National Youth Statement makes demands regarding youth involvement in climate change negotiations; especially Mitigation, Adaptation, and Just Transition. The Statement specifically calls for youth inclusion in the State Department’s Office of Global Change by way of producing “an annual report on youth inclusion in climate policy-making efforts with an indication for how youth priorities were included in key positions and implementation strategies.” In addition to youth involvement, the Statement contains specific climate action demands, particularly “establish[ing} a national moratorium on building infrastructure, such as homes, in climate-vulnerable areas” To learn more about the detailed demands of youth climate advocates in the U.S., read the full statement here. 

Photos taken by Julieta Marino Tartaglino of American University

Coco de Marneffe is a grant writer and former Episcopal Service Corps fellow interested in environmental issues, specifically food justice and indigenous land rights. 

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