​2023 Global Youth Climate Week to advance youth-led climate action

The 2023 Global Youth Climate Week was launched on November 20th, marking the commencement of a five-day spectacular journey led by young people worldwide dedicated to advancing global climate action.

The Global Youth Climate Week Launching Ceremony was organized by the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC) at Tsinghua University. Scheduled a week ahead of each COP, this international mechanism calls on global youth to pool their climate actions to facilitate progress in global climate governance and the success of each UN Climate Change Conference. The ceremony also featured the 2023 Global Youth Summit on Net-zero Future, co-hosted by GAUC and UNESCO.

Wang Hongwei, Vice President of Tsinghua University, and Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Regional Office for East Asia addressed the ceremony. The event was also honored with remarks from XIE Zhenhua, Special Envoy for Climate Change of China, announced by Li Zheng, Secretary-General of GAUC, who moderated the event.

In his opening remarks, Wang Hongwei stated, “The 2023 Global Youth Climate Week engages an even broader spectrum of multi-stakeholders around the world. I am proud to share that in the following days, Tsinghua University will host the second Tsinghua Climate Week.” He also mentioned the specific actions of GAUC by training local youth climate leaders, leveraging Asian Universities Alliance’s regional strength in tackling the continent’s unique climate issues, and the collaboration with UNESCO and global organizations.

Xie Zhenhua stated in his remarks to the 2023 Week, “COP28 emphasizes implementation and action. It marks the first time the global community will comprehensively review the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Despite the multiple differences and challenges faced by various parties, it is crucial to adhere to the principles and framework of the Paris Agreement. I hope young people can fully grasp the global trend, actively seek solutions for global climate governance, and achieve self-fulfillment in the process.”

“The Global Youth Climate Week is a vital initiative as it links to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Shahbaz Khan. “I strongly believe that within our lifetimes, there is hope for a world where we have solved issues like climate change issues, water scarcity, food shortages, poverty, and where no one is left behind.”

The ceremony continued with great anticipation as it unveiled the "Message to Youth" video, a poignant and inspirational testament to the unwavering commitment of global climate leaders to the future leaders of our world. In this stirring video message, esteemed figures from the forefront of the climate movement shared their heartfelt encouragement and high expectations for the Global Youth Climate Week.

UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action Selwin Hart, Former French Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for COP21 Laurence Tubiana, Former Peru Minister of Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Singapore Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Hai Yien Fu, Former Executive Secretary of UNFCCC Patricia Espinosa, Former US Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing, Director General of IRENA Francesco La Camera (Left-right, up-down).

Recognizing the obstacles youth face in advancing climate solutions, GAUC proposed the establishment of the Week to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in February 2022, co-initiating it with over 100 global partners. The then UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa praised the Week as “an impactful contribution to the UNFCCC process.”

Leveraging GAUC’s "Climate x" Campaign 2023, the second Global Youth Climate Week features the launch of its official website and registered events by close to 1000 college students from over 300 universities in 74 countries and regions. These students, enrolled in GAUC’s 2023 "Climate x" Leadership Training Program, have participated in interdisciplinary lectures and organized around 200 events ahead of the Week, impacting over 20,000 people in their local communities.

Alice HO, the Chief Youth Officer of GAUC, presented the history and highlight of the 2023 Global Youth Climate Week.

The launch ceremony of the Week 2023 was followed by the 2023 Global Youth Summit on Net-Zero Future (the Summit), one of the flagship projects of the Week. Ahead of the event, the Summit received close to 300 innovative solutions regarding the four topics from global college students, namely the synergies between climate change and clean power, health, disaster, and sustainable fashion. 10 outstanding young innovators were selected to join the panel discussions of the Summit, where they exchange ideas with leading experts from academia and industry. Enterprise executives and experts from Mercedes-Benz, Kering Group, World Health Organization, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, GE Healthcare, Amazon Web Services, and PIESAT conducted in-depth exchanges with young innovators.

Reflecting the "By Youth, For Youth" spirit of this climate festival, the Summit was a youth-led event designed and organized by a committee composed of students from GAUC’s "Climate x" Training Program, representing 10 universities in seven countries.

For more events during the Global Youth Climate Week, visit: globalyouthclimateweek.org

Reporter: Soo Yu Han

Editors: Cary Lee, Li Han

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