The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai concluded on December 13 2023 after extended negotiations. The most significant outcome of the summit was a commitment to the “phase out of fossil fuels”, the first time that the COP has acknowledged and agreed to address the main cause of the climate crisis. Tasneem Essop, Executive Director, Climate Action Network International of which Peace Boat is a member said “In the hottest year on record, our collective power as people across the world resulted in the first ever signal that the world needs to transition away from fossil fuels, the major cause of the climate crisis. However, vulnerable peoples and countries cannot be left with the burden to fund this transition to address a crisis they did not cause. The polluting countries and companies must deliver the funding to achieve a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels”.

Peace Boat participated in the UN conference as observers and organized several side events in the Blue Zone focused on youth engagement and amplifying the voices of youth on the front line of the climate crisis. Several alumni of Peace Boat’s onboard capacity-building programs for youth, namely the “Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Programme for young leaders from SIDS, the “Youth for SDGs” program which is an endorsed contribution of the UN Ocean Decade and the OPRI youth program were at the COP and speaking at Peace Boat’s side events. 

Peace Boat’s official UNFCCC side event “Capacity Building for Intergenerational Leadership and Youth Empowerment on Climate and Ocean” was held  together with the Climate Youth Negotiators Programme (CYNP), Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition Youth Action Group (CSET Youth), Global Kids and Global Youth Development Institute, Inc. (GYDI). Youth speakers took part in a panel discussion with topics including how can intergenerational collaboration enhance the impact of youth-led initiatives and how can we collectively ensure diversity and inclusivity in the climate space. Jevanic Henry from St Lucia who took part in the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador program in 2019 and is now the first Caribbean representative to the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change spoke on the panel. 

Peace Boat’s event at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion focused on the value of capacity building and peer to peer exchange for youth across the Pacific, It was organized together with the Alliance for Future Generations Fiji with whom we have organized several programs during the ship’s visits to Fiji as well as the Climate Youth Negotiators Programme (CYNP). Matea Nauto of Kiribati who participated in the first Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador program was joined Lavetanalagi Seru, Founder of AFG and Kirsten Maddison of Marshall Islands, Sivendra Michael of Fiji representing CYNP. 

Peace Boat joined a high-level panel with the UN Ocean Envoy, Peter Thomson and Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and Assistant Director-General of UNESCO among others at the Ocean Pavilion to speak about the youth program organized onboard the 115th voyage with the Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI). 

An event at the Peru Pavilion organized and led by Khadija Stewart from Trinidad and Tobago who has joined Peace Boat as part of the Ocean and Climate Ambassador Programme in 2019 and the highlighted the efforts of youth in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In addition to the focus on youth engagement, Peace Boat was glad to contribute to the discussion on the move towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuels through the decarbonization of the maritime sector. Events focused on Peace Boat’s Ecoship together with the International Windship Association (IWSA) took place at the SDGs Pavilion organized by UN DESA, the Finland Pavlion and the Solar+ Pavilion with Ecoship also featured at the Ocean Pavilion, the Ocean X Pavilion and the China Pavilion. 

In addition to the focus on youth engagement, Peace Boat supported an event at the SDG Pavilion on which looked at the peace and climate nexus. “Abolishing Fossil Fuels AND Nuclear War”, organized by the Warheads to Windmills Coaltion was an online and in person event in New York which featured a live link up with organizations including Peace Boat which were participating in both the UN Climate Conference in Dubai and the Second Meeting of Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Peace Boat US Director, Emilie McGlone spoke about the importance of putting the voices of those impacted by the climate crisis and nuclear weapons at the center of the discussion and how Peace Boat’s Hibakusha Project and the importance of first hand testimony to highlight humanitarian impact had inspired the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Program.