Representing the #MissingMajority.
Leaders at COP26 hold the world’s future in their hands. Yet they’re not listening to the majority.
Young people are being excluded, especially those from countries most severely affected by climate change where the majority of the world’s young people live.
We must stand together with young people to support their inclusion.
Restless Development and our partner Lightful are supporting five young climate activists from across the world who are heading to Glasgow to bring as many youth voices into COP26 as possible.
Meet the Youth Power Climate Reps.
Inés Yábar, Peru
Inés is a 25 year old sustainability activist and works for youth organisation Restless Development. She is one of the founders of Ensemble pour TECHO, an organisation seeking to eradicate poverty through the joint work of young people and community members, and co-leads L.O.O.P., a grassroots women-led Peruvian social impact company conserving the marine ecosystem. She believes that humans are on this earth to administer the planet and uses her volunteering, research and job to strive for a more sustainable present and future since she was 15 years old.
“I am lucky enough to be attending COP26, but I shouldn’t be ‘lucky’. Young people make up half the world’s population. We need our place at COP26, to be heard, to make decisions and to take responsibility for the changes we need to make happen so that we can avert climate disaster.
“In Peru climate havoc is being reaped in the form of floods and glacier melting leading to people having to leave their homes. But the solutions are being forged by young people who are building more sustainably, working with communities, protecting waves and putting climate at the forefront of their innovations.”
Azeez Tobi Abubakar, Nigeria
Azeez is a 22 year old young leader who focuses his activism on helping communities worst-affected by the climate crisis. Azeez co-created the Nigeria Youth Consultation on Climate Change (NYCCC), and has represented young people at many global events, including the World Bank Group Youth Summit on Resilient Recovery for People and Planet. He is also Policy and Advocacy Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN), BeyGOOD and Global Citizen Fellow and World Economic Forum Global Shaper.
“At COP26 I want to champion action for positive change to protect the most vulnerable communities across the world from the effects of climate change. Their experiences and voices are too consistently missed from the decisions and action taken on climate change.
“In Nigeria, climate crisis is destroying lives and livelihoods as its effects such as flooding and drought have resulted in hunger and insecurity and more people living in extreme poverty. But sustainable and innovative solutions are being led and championed by young people. Some of these solutions include Clean energy, waste and consumption tech, sustainable building materials.”
Poonam Ghimire, Nepal – VISA NOT ISSUED
Unfortunately despite being accredited and invited to attend COP26, Poonam’s visa has not been issued. The summit loses Poonam’s voice and expertise on climate action, at least in person.
Poonam Ghimire is a 26 year old climate activist and the Next Generation Fellow at the United Nations Foundation working for the preparation and implementation of ‘Our Future Agenda’ report launched in September 2021. She was the former Head of the International Processes Commission at the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA). She is currently active within a number of major UN led processes, including the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), working to make sure young people are included. Poonam started her advocacy journey at the age of 11 by writing a play that called for the equal education of girls in Nepal.
“Due to a delay in my visa, I cannot attend COP26 and share my experiences with policy makers. With that, I became part of the #missingmajority that Restless Development and other young people were worried about being absent during the major decision making happening at the summit.
“As it draws towards the end of COP26, I strongly appeal to global leaders to make binding commitments towards climate adaption and mitigation; make young people and gender the center for climate decision-making; and have better climate financing to support communities in lower-income countries worst-effected by climate impacts
“Nepal is ranked as the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change (UNDP) and climate related hazards like glacial floods, floods, and landslides are rampant. In addition, food and water scarcity is hardly hitting everyone, especially the women. So, the solutions are being led by young people leading climate movements and awareness, policy discussions as well as innovations to bring about the change.“
Andrew Tangang, Cameroon
Tangang Andrew is a member of the Restless Development’s Youth Power Panel – a group of activists holding leaders to account for their Global Goals commitments. He is a community activist in Cameroon and worked with ICAD Enterprise (a social enterprise working on climate change) in implementing the ‘Green City’ project in the University town of Dschang (to raise awareness on waste sorting amongst students and plant trees in the Dschang Municipality), and to set-up a waste recycling centre. Ahead of COP26 Andrew worked with the Local Youth Corner team to mobilise over 1000 young people across Cameroon to engage in initiatives aimed at combating climate change.
“To share the experiences of young climate activists in Cameroon who cannot attend COP26 in person and ensure that the decisions arrived at reflect their aspirations. I’ve been working with thousands of young people in Cameroon and will be doing everything possible to bring their experiences to the summit.
“In Cameroon, climate change is endangering communities’ ecosystems as a result of flooding in the coastal zones, accelerated droughts in the Northern regions and increased urbanisation. But solutions are being led by young people such as the planting of trees in various affected communities (ICAD Enterprises ‘Operation 1000 trees per year’) .“
Andrew Mugonza, Uganda – VISA NOT ISSUED
Despite being accredited and invited to attend COP26, like Poonam, Andrew’s visa has not been issued. In recent weeks Andrew has launched a new report, Young Ugandan Voices for COP26, a reminder of the crucial insights missing from COP26, when young leaders like Andrew are denied access. Read Andrew’s blog and share it on socials using #COP26.
Andrew is a Ugandan environmentalist and climate activist who dedicates his time to working with marginalised groups of people in remote areas to adapt to climate change. Andrew raises awareness about climate change where most organisations or activists can not go, working mostly with rural girls and women, and young people in the remote areas of Uganda. He mobilises local communities to plant indigenous trees, fruit and medicinal plants and helps schools in rural Uganda to set up environmental clubs that promote climate literacy. Following a lack of media coverage of environmental and climate change issues, Andrew started an online media platform called Whisper Eye to report about climate change. He is currently volunteering at Fridays For Future Uganda as a community mobilizer and liaison officer.
“For over three weeks, I’ve not gotten a response from the UK high commission in Uganda regarding my visa to attend COP26. I feel very disappointed and frustrated at the same time.
“My efforts to represent my community which is suffering the impacts of climate change have been hindered by a visa.
“We can not claim to be fighting for climate justice when voices from the global south are being denied visas and prevented from negotiating with the global north. COP26 to a large extent has turned out to be a meeting of polluting countries, making it less inclusive. When you limit participation of countries like Uganda, you silence those worst affected by the climate crisis.
The climate revolution is inevitable. We need it now!”
“Voices from the global South need to be heard, need to be listened to. I would like the world to get first hand information of an activist from a country that is suffering from the climate crisis at the hands of developed countries. COP26 presents an opportunity for me to represent my fellow young people, lobby for them, negotiate on their behalf and make our case for climate justice.
“Uganda is already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common in many parts of the country. Floods, drought and landslides cannot take three months without happening. The country was recently faced by desert locusts. Temperatures are going high while rainy seasons are no longer predictable. Deforestation is alarming while plastic pollution is worrying. The country is currently building the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline which is a big risk to the environment with grave dangers to the planet. Victims of extreme weather events have become climate refugees as they have nowhere to go except in temporary shelters. Both livestock and crop farmers are counting losses year after year given frequent droughts, and erratic rainfall. After the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) the situation will become worse.”
Want your message shared at COP26? #MissingMajority
We want to hear from you! What is your message to world leaders attending COP? Our Youth Power Climate Reps will take your message and share it at the summit.
Enter your message below, or join the conversation on social media, using #MissingMajority.