*Flavia Bellaguarda has been busy presenting YCL in different global events. She was recently in Egypt and Paris, and is now having meetings with potential partners in the UK. She will later reunite with Cassia Moraes in Norway for YCL's participation in the Xynteo Exchange Marketplace, and COP 24 in Poland afterwards. Below is her testimonial about the first part of this journey.
My journey started in earlier November. Youth Climate Leaders (YCL) was invited to participate in the World Youth Forum, which took place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 3rd to 6th of November. It was the second edition of the Forum and 5.000 young people from all over the world attended the event. Its main goal was to provide a place for young people to network, allowing them to exchange views and engage in debates with other young people and policymakers.
The main activity of the Forum were the panels divided in three different tracks: Peace, Development and Creativity. The event managed to bring to discussion interesting points, such as Africa 2063, integrating people with disabilities, the gender gap, building future leaders, among others. YCL attended the Peace track in the panel “Day Zero: Water Security in the Wake of Climate Change”. I was one of the panelists and I talked about youth-led networks and engagement in a scenario of increasing climate changes and water insecurity.
Our panel was composed by an incredible group of people representing key organizations: Ministry of Water Resources of Egypt, EarthEcho International, BENAA Foundation, Hellenic Center for Marine Research, Generation Earth, World Youth Parliament for Water, Young Global Changer and UNESCO. Panelists highlighted that water is becoming the most valuable resource in earth and we must deal with carefully in order to have peaceful solutions regarding its distribution and consumption around the world. Also, youth were in evidence in all speeches, and panelists have recognized that young people are the problem solvers who will work on the issues highlighted by the event, and they should start giving space to us now in order to hear our voices and prepare us for the next step.
After my stay in Sharm El Sheikh - and of course a quick trip to Cairo to see the Pyramids - it was time to fly to Paris. YCL was honored to be selected to attend the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum, from 11th to 13th November, and showcase our startup in the environmental village among other 119 projects from all over the world. Youth Climate Leaders would like to give a special "thank you" to CIVICUS for sponsoring us to attend the Paris Peace Forum. It was a well-organized and bustling event. The opening ceremony was full Heads of State, Heads of Government, and leaders of international organizations. It was a life-time experience to share the same room with President Trudeau, President Macron, President Putin, Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Nobel Peace Nadia Murad, just to name a few. A crucial part of YCL mission is enable young people worldwide to increasingly occupy those spaces.
President Macron opened the ceremony stating that the world is in a different path because in the centenary of the 1918 Armistice, when we had in the same room 84 heads of states peacefully reunited in Paris under the Arc de Triomphe. The Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that peace must be pursed, and the first step is to recognize that the world is facing severe crises. She emphasized the refugee crisis we are facing saying that countries must be united in order to solve the situation providing real support for those in need.
Additionally, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted that climate change is the biggest challenge of 21st century and that multilateral efforts are crucial for us to take actions as we are gearing up for COP24. He complemented Merkel saying that in the context of climate change, demography and migration issues are the second most important challenge of our century. It reminded me of the amazing lecture that Dr. Caroline Zickgraf gave to us in Paris about the intersection of climate change and the refugee crisis during the #YCL2018Immersion. You can watch below a video made by our YCLs Milvo and Thomas, in which she presents the main points of her talk:
The main purpose of the Paris Peace Forum was thus to produce two primary outputs: testifying and mobilizing in favor of collective action and multilateralism, and advancing concrete projects of global governance. Altogether, the Forum featured three spaces: (1) a Space for Solutions showcasing governance projects in five “Villages” (peace and security, environment, development, new technologies and inclusive economy); (2) a Space for debates where initiatives from the Villages as well as cross-cutting themes were discussed; and (3) a Space for Innovation which invites developers and programmers to devise digital solutions for the identified challenges.
It was a difficult task to decide which discussion I should participate in, as there were so many interesting topics! Fortunately, the YCL stand was always full of people keen to learn more about our startup and we had the chance to network with amazing people from all over the world. For that reason, I did not have time to participate in a lot of panels, so I chose the panels “Finance for Climate: a Way to go Forward, a Way to go Faster” and “Fleshing out 2250: A Role for Youth in Global Stability”.
We had three intense days at the Paris Peace Forum, where we could foster important connections to strength our ability to solve the challenges mentioned by President Macron. I was happy to hear in the closing ceremony that the next edition of the Paris Peace Forum they will have more open spaces for youth. We were not well represented in many panels, both as speakers and participants, nor as project leaders showcasing projects in the Villages. On the other hand, I was proud to see organizers recognizing this issue and that in order to pursue peace and have a multilateral efforts to solve the world problems the youth must be included.
So I hope to see many of you on the next edition of the Forum!