I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Conference of Youth 16 (COY16) as a Scottish delegate from Who Cares? Scotland.
I’m also the first person to represent Scotland at a COY! It was an amazing experience and I got to work with four other candidates from various Scottish organisations such as Young Scot and the Scottish Youth Parliament.
What is COY?
The UN Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY) is an event under the banner of YOUNGO – The Official Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The conference takes place right before the annual UN Climate Change Conference, also known as Conference of the Parties (COP). COY serves as a space for capacity building and policy training, in order to prepare young people for their participation at COP.
In 2021, COY was in its 16th year and is dubbed as the largest and longest running youth event to date; gathering thousands of young changemakers from more than 140 countries.
COY16 took place at Strathclyde University in Glasgow and was held over four days from the 28th-31st October, right before COP26. The COP26 summit would bring together parties from around the world with the aim of tackling climate change.
I arrived at COY16 with the other Scottish delegates and attended the welcome session where we learned more about what COY16 is. Then there were talks, presentations, performances, art shows, films and even a sustainable job fair that happened each day.
One of my favourite talks was titled ‘Message in a Bottle; Island Youth, COP26 and Children’s Rights to a Healthy Ocean’. It focused on the plight of island children across the world who will be some of the first to feel the effects of sea level rise.
It was important to hear the voices of young children who are left out of climate change discussions.
The project interviewed children from the outer Scottish islands and children living in the Solomon Islands. There was a critical discussion afterwards and there was engaging speeches from candidates from island nations. I also enjoyed the Green Jobs fair that presented a range of green projects from across Scotland and the world.
I also attended the COY16 Global Youth Statement Briefing session where we worked with other delegates to discuss contemporary climate issues.
I got to meet delegates from all over the world such as Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. We then submitted our ideas which would then be revised by the YOUNGO team, and the statements would be included to the global youth statement, presented at COP26.
I used the platform to raise the issue on sea level rise which is something I am very passionate about from growing up on the Scottish coastline. Overall, I enjoyed my time at COY16 and I would definitely go again.