The United Nations hosts an important Climate Change conference every year, also known as the Conference of Parties (COP). COP 28 member states from around the world are coming together to discuss the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and agree on ways to address the climate crisis, global temperature rise, support for vulnerable communities, and net-zero emission commitments.

This past week, the Youth Scholars and Global Ambassadors have had the opportunity to speak on panels, attend press conferences, showcase expertise at pavilions, and bring fresh ideas as youth to the conference.

Read below to learn more about the Global Ambassadors and Youth for the SDGs Scholars and what they’re looking forward to during the second half of COP28!

Kneyone Murray
I am attending COP 28 as the Project Coordinator for EcoVybz Environmental Creatives. We will be working on the Caribbean Youth Perspective Project in Dubai for the first time by doing interviews for their podcasts and hosting an event at the Peru Pavilion showcasing the link between youth in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Apart from working with EcoVybz, I look forward to seeing all the innovative projects people around the world are working on and networking opportunities so I can establish connections with like-minded individuals. I hope to find potential collaborators, mentors, or investors who share my passion for renewable energy. I look forward to gaining insights into the current state of global climate action as well.

As a young innovator myself, I want to attend as many youth-focused events as possible so that I can participate, share my perspectives, and contribute to discussions on how young people can play a vital role in addressing climate change.

Finally, in 2024, I have two major projects that I want to work on. The first is a sargassum clean-up initiative in Trinidad and Tobago, and second, is holding a Youth Symposium related to renewable energy in the Caribbean. I hope to go to events that may highlight funding opportunities and support mechanisms for these climate-related projects to further develop and implement my renewable energy initiatives.

Ashley Lashley
I am genuinely looking forward to attending my 3rd COP as a young person dedicated to championing youth action and engagement in these crucial spaces. It’s an exciting journey, and I’m enthusiastic about the opportunities it brings.

This year, I am particularly focused on championing the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The urgency of addressing climate change requires bold steps, and advocating for sustainable energy practices is a key part of our success.

Additionally, I’m passionate about addressing the unique challenges that youth from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face. These regions are often disproportionately affected by climate change, and it’s vital to amplify the voices of young people from these areas, ensuring their concerns are heard and addressed in global discussions.

There’s so much to look forward to at the conference. I am eager to engage in meaningful discussions, collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations, and contribute to shaping solutions for a more sustainable future.

Khadija Stewart
Since this is my first COP, I’m excited about understanding the intense world of climate negotiations and how youth can meaningfully engage and contribute to that process.

I also received a grant to bring a storytelling project to life, so I’m also excited about putting people at the center of the climate conversations and I’d be interviewing young Caribbean leaders, bringing the global south stories to life and highlighting the realities of climate change and action in a region often underrepresented.

I’m hopeful that this COP sees an agreement on activating a just loss and damage fund and that the global Stocktake really pushes us for a legally binding agreement with ambitious targets to lower carbon economies.

Francisco Lara
COP is packed with many things, everything is happening around you, and sometimes it is difficult to navigate these waters! As someone who attended these conferences in the past, I want to provide guidance to youth who may need it so they will have the knowledge on how to engage with both Government Representatives and Civil Society Organizations, keep an eye on the crucial negotiations, and also don’t miss anything happening in and out of COP!

At the same time, I want to follow key negotiations to achieve the target on keeping the global temperature below -or at- 1.5°, as well as the climate pledges that Countries are making to meet the climate targets they set under the Paris Agreement, including the commitments for just transition to leave no one behind. I also want to look for ways to secure partnerships for youth-led projects and have the capacity to connect the youth who could not make it to COP, with the opportunities that are being presented here.

Mark Haver
Mark has led Sustainable Ocean Alliance’s delegation to COP26 and COP27, and he is excited to provide support to SOA’s delegation at COP28 in Dubai. Mark has a long history of engagement with the UNFCCC and at COP. He has spoken on panels hosted by the Chilean Government, the Scottish Government, the UN High Level Climate Champions, and organizational partners about SOA’s policy work related to the Global Blue New Deal and our campaign against deep-sea mining. He spoke at the plenary of the first-ever Ocean Climate Dialogue and moderated the second Dialogue in-person during the UNFCCC’s semiannual SB intercessions.

Mark hopes to contribute his experience in navigating the ever-growing COP ecosystem to prepare his fellow youth delegates to make the most out of COP28.

In addition to his work with SOA, he will be screening Deep Rising, a Sunrise-nominated, New York Times Critics Choice documentary, at several events at COP to elevate the need for us to protect one of the planet’s most important carbon sinks, the deep sea. He is also looking forward to elevating the fashion-ocean-climate nexus with Global Fashion Exchange, where they have recently launched the Youth Program.