Article WYCJ – Stockholm +50 Event

Stockholm+50, which took place on the 2nd and the 3rd of June in the capital city of Sweden, commemorated the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and celebrated 50 years of global environmental action. By recognizing the importance of multilateralism in tackling the Earth’s triple planetary crisis – climate, nature, and pollution – the international meeting aims to drive action toward a healthy planet for the prosperity of all.

As a member of the World’s Youth for Climate Justice (WYCJ) campaigner and intern at the Normandy Chair for Peace (NCP), I had the chance to attend the event for both of the days. The NCP has been created in order to improve scientific diplomacy in link with civil society. The Chair Tony Opposa imagined this specific action to ask the ICJ (International Court of Justice) for an Advisory Opinion. On this theme, a Moot Court was organized in 2016 at the Supreme Court of Hawaii. Since 2020, the Youth have taken the lead. Several members of the WYCJ’s team were present: Mert Kumru, Laure-Marine Vioujard, Jule Schnakenberg, Samira Ben Ali and I, Sophie Pecqueur. What for? As we aim at reaching the ICJ to ask for an advisory opinion on the link between climate change and human rights and the responsibility of states on this matter, the event was a huge opportunity for us to gain more visibility, to reach out to new partners and meet new influential people that could help us in our mission.

Day 1

The event proposed three types of conferences the whole day long: the plenary session, side events as well as virtual meetings and conferences in the “Action hub” room. We decided to divide our group into two. Samira Ben Ali, who is also a Sciences Po student, and I focused on the side events and picked the conference which topics had an interest regarding the issues we are dealing with. During each conference, we spotted key interlocutors and reached to them once the conferences were over to talk to them about the movement and explain the support we are looking for, hoping that some of them may agree to become our “Friends of the Initiative”. The first conference we attended on Thursday morning was on “Waste Management as an urgent issue to be addressed at the local and municipal level to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to fight climate change”. There, we met Abdulla Naseer, Minister of State for Environment Climate Change & Technology of the Maldives. He showed his support and we look forward to keeping the contact with him, hoping the Maldives will join the list of the AO’ supporting states.

After lunch, most of the conferences we wanted to attend were already full so we went to the last one with some room left entitled “Young People leading the COVID-19 response and recovery”. After the conference, we succeeded into reaching new contacts, among which Cristina Romanelli, Programme Officer, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Health Programme Officer at the World Health Organization, as well as Juan Pablo Celis Garcia, Youth Programme Coordinator at UN Environment Programme. Then we stayed in the same room to attend a last conference we couldn’t miss, both because of the speakers we definitely had to talk with and because of the topic itself “Coming Together for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet: The UN system’s commitment to advancing the human right to a healthy environment”. For this occasion, we met Maria Osbeck, Senior Programme Specialist Environment and Climate from UNICEF.

To finish the day, we programmed a team meeting at 5pm, inviting also young people who came up to us during the day to show their interest and curiosity toward the campaign. This gathering was a moment for us to sum up what has been done by the five of us during the day, to think about efficient strategies for the next day and also to debrief on the general progress of the campaign. This last point was a way to do a crab with the four young people present at the meeting and present the movement and its goals. By the way, all of them come from countries were WYCJ had yet no youth activists, that is to say Brazil, Malaysia, Albania and Denmark. We are very happy to welcome new campaigners who can help us in our advocacy work in order to get as much countries as possible voting for the advisory opinion (AO) in September 2022.

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