United Nations


In 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted as the basis for a global response to the problem of a changing climate. With 194 Parties, the Convention enjoys near-universal membership. The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

The Convention is complemented by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which has 192 Parties. Under this treaty, 37 industrialised countries and the European Community have committed to reducing their emissions by an average of 5 percent by 2012 against 1990 levels. Industrialized countries must first and foremost take domestic action against climate change. But the Protocol also allows them to meet their emission reduction commitments abroad through so-called ”market-based mechanisms”.


Since the UNFCCC entered into force in 1995, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC have been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change.

  • The COP adopts decisions and resolutions, published in reports of the COP.  Successive decisions taken by the COP make up a detailed set of rules for practical and effective implementation of the Convention.


  • The CMP serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which also adopts decisions and resolutions on the implementation of its provisions.
  • Parties to the Convention that are not Parties to the Protocol are able to participate in the CMP as observers, but without the right to take decisions.


Recently, the Youth Constituency (or YOUNGO) was legitimised as a stakeholder in the UNFCCC process (and JUST the UNFCCC process). We are now formally seen as a voice that should be at the table on this issue. Most of the things it includes we already had access to at the UNFCCC, but they are now made much easier to access and are guaranteed. However, we are on a probationary period with this status, and it will be formalized prior to COP17 in 2011.

For the most part, the benefits are all about logistics. The one major thing that is broader is that in the eyes of other stakeholders, such as Parties, the media, the Secretariat, hopefully funders, etc we are seen (or at least, hopefully will be seen) as a more legitimate player in the negotiations. We will gain greater access to meetings, resources and information, while we will likely see a positive change from some UNFCCC participants towards us. These elements are more difficult to measure and at this point remain unknown as to how much they will effect our work. Largely it should be positive though.

Young people must be heard at Durban, since it is our future that these and subsequent negotiations will lay out. Global youth have a powerful voice and strong opinions on Climate Change, and most of all – a clear vision and ambition for what must be done. To communicate this in the conference proceedings is essential to humanise and re-frame the debate, inspiring our politicians to make courageous decisions for future generations.

For some sweet resources by Danny at UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC), click below:


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