Ahead of COP26, young climate activists come together to drive change

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (left) and Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate at the opening plenary session of the Youth4Climate event, September 28, 2021 in Milan
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

September 28 to 30, nearly 400 young people from all over the world are debating the climate emergency at a summit staged in Milan by the UN, ahead of the upcoming COP26. It sets the stage for young climate activists, including Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate.

There's just a few weeks to go until the COP26 United Nations climate change conference kicks off, bringing together world leaders. But ahead of this major event, young people are in the spotlight, taking the stage at the " Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition ." For three days, starting Tuesday, September 28, nearly 400 activists aged 15 to 29 and from 186 countries will meet in Milan to discuss the fate of the planet.

Among them are the activist Greta Thunberg (who needs no introduction), but also 22-year-old Ashley Lashley, 25-year-old Vanessa Nakate and 25-year-old Luisa Neubauer, emblematic figures in the field of climate action in Barbados, Uganda and Germany.

The objective of this summit is to establish a negotiation sheet with concrete proposals addressed to the 59 ministers of the environment who will be attending the COP26 conference, held November 1 to 12 in Glasgow, Scotland.

"The youth delegates will form four working groups according to the following thematic areas: youth driving ambition, sustainable recovery, non-state actors' engagement, and climate-conscious society," explains the Youth4Climate website.

"Over the past few years, I have seen more and more how the climate crisis is affecting the African continent .... You cannot adapt to extinction .... Loss and damage is here with us now, we need to put it at the center of negotiations," said Vanessa Nakate in her speech given Tuesday, September 28 in Milan.

Like Greta Thunberg, this Ugandan activist began campaigning outside Parliament on Friday afternoons (instead of going to school) to demand more measures and laws to protect the planet and its inhabitants. She then created the Rise Up movement, through which she was able to carry out local actions, such as installing solar panels in schools in Uganda.


Alongside Vanessa Nakate, Greta Thunberg also gave a speech which, as usual, doesn't fail to pack a punch, urging world leaders to react to the climate emergency: "We can no longer let the people in power decide what is politically possible. We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is. Hope is not passive. Hope is not blah, blah, blah. Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action. And hope always comes from the people."

"Change will come from the streets"

From Bangladesh to Mexico, Germany, Sweden, France, South Africa, Canada and Argentina... On Friday, September 24, climate marches organized by young protesters took place in more than 1,400 cities around the world. "Change is going to come but it is going to come from the streets. We will make sure that this message is out there on the 24th," Luisa Neubauer, a spokesperson for Fridays For Future in Germany, told The Guardian .

Last year, when COP26 was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, young people around the world mobilized to create their own climate conference. Entitled "Mock COP26," this two-week online summit initiated by British student Josh Tregale and 16 other young people was an opportunity for young activists to debate topics such as climate justice and climate education, or even discuss the measures taken by states to reduce their carbon emissions.

According to a recent study carried out by the " Teach The Future " campaign (which advocates for widespread climate education in the UK), 70% of teachers feel they have not received adequate training to educate students about the climate crisis.

Léa Drouelle

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting