Climate change has already changed the future of our planet. 2015 was a year of important milestones for the world. The adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement carry the promise of a sustainable future, one that leaves no one behind and transitions towards renewable energy for the planet. Heads of State, senior government officials, scientists, climatologists and economists were joined by deeply concerned global citizens, including young people anticipating action toward sustainability and climate mitigation. The actions of today will affect generations to come. The voice of young people is critically important in solving the current environmental crisis and the consequences of drastic climactic shifts.
Given this background, Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA), the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW), and the Earth Charter International Secretariat (ECI), along with regional local partners, have jointly organized youth focused climate change gatherings, Inner Dimension of Climate Change (IDCC), throughout different regions to support the transition to a carbon neutral world, a world that is sustainable and leaves no one behind.
Africa 8–13 November 2016
Twenty emerging African youth ecologists gathered in Marrakech, Morocco for the Inner Dimensions of Climate Change for the African Region. The event coincided with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP-22 meeting and IDCC participants attended the civil society zone of the official climate meeting.
The program dialogue focused on regional and local responses to climate action and mitigation in the Africa. Thematic discussions examined the future of water, the impact of pollution, as well as small scale and regenerative agriculture and the importance of integrating indigenous knowledge into development pathways. After identifying external challenges, discussions examined what is needed to deepen our relationship with the Earth.
The Americas and and the Caribbean 18–23 January 2017
Thirty emerging youth ecologists from Latin America, the Caribbean and North America gathered in Costa Rica for the IDCC meeting.
The opening day of the program was coordinated by the Earth Charter International (ECI) office at the University for Peace campus in Ciudad Colon in San Jose, Costa Rica. The ECI Youth Program Coordinator led participants in interactive discussions on the foundational pillars of the Earth Charter, a global charter that was created with input from over one million people on the fundamental values and principles for a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society. The Earth Charter parallels the foundational values of the IDCC program and served as an introduction to the five-day dialogue focused on regional and local responses to climate change in the Americas and small island states in the Caribbean.
Youth participants identified challenging regional, national and local issues such as biodiversity loss, increased chemical use in agriculture and highlighted the importance of traditional indigenous knowledge and cultivating personal relationships with nature. The youth delegates, diverse in background, were in agreement that reviving and strengthening indigenous cultural practices that support a balanced relationship between humanity and the Earth as a living system is essential. Participants from the Mayan and Quechua indigenous communities highlighted the transformative impact of embodying their spiritual and cultural heritage and stated that their traditions serve as a guide to address life’s inner and outer challenges.
Europe 10–15 November 2017
Twenty-five emerging youth ecologists from Europe gathered in Bonn, Germany for the European IDCC. The event coincided with the UNFCCC (COP-23) global climate change meeting and IDCC youth delegates attended the civil society zone of the climate summit.
The IDCC program focused on youth involvement in community initiatives to address climate change and what it means to renew a relationship with the Earth, to rebalance humanity’s relationship with the Earth.
Asia Pacific 6–11 February 2018
Thirty emerging youth ecologists from Asia Pacific Region gathered in Bangkok, Thailand for the IDCC in this region. The meeting was officially opened at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in Bangkok. A UNEP Representative delivered an overview of the impact of climate change in the Asia Pacific region and highlighted the fact that most of the impact is felt by the vulnerable and the poor.
Over the next few days the conversation was interwoven with how education plays a vital role in reimagining a world in which we can reclaim a harmonious relationship with the Earth. Many shared stories of transformational moments, learning to restore the earth and engaging with their community to cultivate a sense of stewardship for the land on which they live. Although participants represented different cultures, countries, and approaches to their respective work, it was clear that the young people shared a deep dedication to ensuring the well being of Mother Earth.
The Middle East 20–25 October 2018
Twenty-five emerging youth ecologists from the Middle East gathered in Larnaca, Cyprus for the IDCC program, which opened with an overview by a UNDP Regional Climate Change Specialist in the Arab region on the water situation in the Middle East and the impact of climate change. He discussed the implementation of UNDP’s flagship initiatives in the region, which bring multidisciplinary perspectives to connect environment, climate change, disaster risk reduction and poverty reduction to achieve related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Over the next few days, youth delegates spoke about the challenges in their region with a focus on issues related to water and energy. The innovative community initiatives that were presented reflected their strong commitment to supporting a sustainable future. Participants also discussed an array of solutions including the creation of eco-centers that reconnect people to the land and the oceans.