Wednesday, 14 November 2012


The debates and discussions on climate change have for a long time been making media headlines across the world. Different political and non-political actors have and still engage in climate change negotiations at different consultative levels and topical scope while topics such as climate change prevention, mitigation or adaptation are becoming overwhelming and common agendas. Consequently, in order to systematically, globally and collectively address the emerging climate change problem, the United Nations (UN) initiated and has been annually organising the Conference of Parties (COP). In this case, parties imply the member states of the UN. After the endorsement of the General Assembly Session (UNGAS) to create the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) between 1990 and 1994, the first COP was held in 1995 in Berlin, Germany herein referred to as the COP 1 Berlin.   
While Zambia has been one of the active parties since inception, it is imperative to mention that this important world conference on climate change is held on a rotation basis in relation to country and continent. For example, COP2 was in Geneva, Geneva declaration 1996; COP3 Kyoto, Kyoto protocol 1997; COP4 Plan action Argentina 1998; COP5 finalising the Kyoto protocol, Bonn Germany 1999; COP6 Kyoto Protocol Operation Rulebook Hague, Netherlands 2000; COP7 Marrakech Accords, Morocco in 2001; COP8  New Delhi Work Program- New Delhi India in 2002; COP9 Adaptation Fund Milan- Italy in 2003; COP10 Post-Kyoto Mechanisms- Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2004; COP11 Montreal Action Plan- Montreal Canada; COP12 Nairobi Conference- Nairobi 2006; COP13 Bali action- Bali, Indonesia 2007; COP14 Poznan Climate Change Conference- Poznan, Poland 2008; COP15 Copenhagen Accord Denmark-2009; COP16 Cancun Agreements, Cancun Mexico 2010; and COP17 Durban Platform – Durban South Africa.  
As per UN recommendation or standard, there is need for each country to send a balanced representation ranging from government, civil society, youth, women and faith based in all these climate change negotiations. This means that as government parties prepare for the COP18 (18th Conference of Parties) which will take place from 23rd November – 9th December, 2012 the development of country position papers should be in partnership with various stakeholders that includes civil societies, youth, woman and faith based as earlier noted. In the case of Zambia just like many other developing countries, the participation and input of the youth in the climate change COPs remain a vital and unquestionable issue as they constitute more than 60% of the total population or stakeholder threshold.  
But what are the critical challenges and technical problems that hinders and discourage the Zambian youth from actively participating in the UNFCCC negotiations? Before, during and after the preparation and implementation processes of in country activities based on COP resolutions, Zambian youth face what one would call manageable and avoidable challenges which hinder information sharing with the general public and development as articulated below:
1-      Youth stakeholder perception and resistance –Youths face social and professional resistance and rejection by various sectors of society. This result in perceiving and treating youths as ordinary social tools and not viewed as partners in the development process. This has equally affected the relationship between the Zambian government and the youth in relation to COPs.
2-      Sponsorship – The COP is a high level negotiating forum which means that youth should be rationally encouraged to participate in order to allow them learns the skills of professional engagement and negotiation for today and the future. However, since the inception of the COP meetings, Zambia government has never sponsored more than 2 youths.
3-      Accreditation – To participate in the COP, youths need to be accredited by the Zambian government in order to represent Zambia. However, the youths cannot easily access this accreditation here. This forces the Zambian youths to look for other international accrediting institutions. This means one ends up representing the accrediting institution as opposed to his or her country.
4-      Marginalization – In many cases, the Zambian youths are marginalized at various levels. Especially their participation at policy levels, most youths are just invited to meet the numbers and for report purposes.
1-      Government should consider youths of today as partners and future negotiators by increasing the sponsorship in UNFCCC from the current 2 to more than 10. For example, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa or Malawi sends more than 20 youths. The current trend should be treated as a call of worry for it is evident that the future for Zambia’s negotiators is fading.  
2-      During the preparatory meetings, the government should do a comprehensive process which should include; selection of youth and civil society participants, accreditation, and sponsorship.
3-      The government should only give one recommendation from the permanent secretary to youths and civil society for resource mobilization based on the list compiled during the preparatory meetings.  

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