CAFOD climate champions, John Paul and Eleanor Margetts, share their experience of attending COY13, the 13th Youth Conference that runs alongside the annual climate conference COP23.
Hello! Our names are John Paul, Edward and Eleanor and we have just finished taking part in COY13, the Conference of Youth that took place in Bonn, Germany, ahead of the COP23 Conference – the conference of parties which meets annually to discuss climate change.
The COY13 conference aims to mobilise people into taking action for climate change, particularly in the context of implementing the Paris Agreement as a result of COP21.
We formed part of the youth delegation, a gathering of around 1,000 young people from all over the world, coming together to learn and to share ideas on making positive changes for the good of the environment and for climate justice.
As delegates, we contributed to the conference with a ninety-minute session on the idea of Ecological Conversion. This workshop aimed to introduce people to the idea of Ecological Conversion that Pope Francis presents in his encyclical Laudato Si. This is the idea that we must all have a dramatic change-of-heart to alter the ways in which we live our lives.
Edward said: “It was great to see people from all different backgrounds working together to find solutions to the environment issue and being able to share perspectives on this problem that we are all facing.”
We presented the idea of connectivity, and how our actions affect our global neighbours in our Common Home, and how we can use these actions and connections positively in our daily life in order to make a difference, linking the necessity between the call to love our neighbour and to care for the environment.
Eleanor said: “COY13 offered me the chance to learn about things that I had never thought about before; it challenged my understanding of the climate change debate and has made me think about things in a new way. I look forward to continuing to learn about all of the issues involved in climate justice.”
During the conference, we had the opportunity to attend a number of workshops delivered by young people from across the globe. We heard speakers on topics such as: Climate Justice and Refugees, Habit-changing, Neo-Liberalism and climate justice, The Impact of the meat industry on the Environment, fuel efficiency in Cooking Stoves in Africa, Ecological Spiritualism and the Renewable Energy Argument.
It was enlightening to hear different perspectives about all of these issues and to be able to contribute and to share our own opinions and expertise with other delegates.
The conference ended with a march through Bonn city, where we met up with CAFOD’s sister organisation CIDSE. The demonstration called upon the COP23 leaders to step away from the coal industry. It was great to see so many passionate young people calling upon the world’s leaders to stand up for climate justice.
Overall, we had an amazing time, joining in a network of people protecting the environment, nature and human dignity. We all had something to take away at the end of it.
John Paul: “It was an incredible opportunity allowing me to contribute to and learn about tackling climate change – this exchange of knowledge and ideas made me realise my capacity to make a difference.”
CAFOD climate champions are an opportunity for 18-30s to join with young Catholics across Europe to learn more about and campaign on climate change and sustainability.