• Swiss Youth for Climate

Yes, we made it! Education on climate change became reality

Yes we made it! Education, training and public awareness on climate change became reality - 1st decision for the Paris Agreement Work Programme passed!

Eight Swiss Youth for Climate delegates attended the climate change negotiations of the 48th Meeting of UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies (SB48) in Bonn from the 30 April to 10 May 2018. Right before this session, Marie-Claire and Jonas along with 110 climate change leaders attended the ACE Youth Forum. During the two subsequent weeks, they followed the discussions and negotiations on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE; referred to in Art. 6 of the UNFCCC / Art. 12 of the Paris Agreement). SB48 which dealt with the creation of the Paris Agreement work program aka Paris rulebook for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Hence, Swiss Youth for Climate was deeply involved in the successful development around ACE during SB48.

Introduction on Action for Climate Empowerment: World governments adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the famous 1992 Rio Conference (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, June 1992). Through its ratification, in March 1994, the countries have become “Parties to the Convention”. Its Article 6 calls on governments to educate, empower and engage all stakeholders and major groups on policies relating to climate change. Since 2015, the six elements of this Article 6 – education, training, public access to information, public awareness, public participation and international cooperation on climate action – have been referred to jointly as “ACE”, which stands for Action for Climate Empowerment, and no longer as “Article 6” to avoid confusion with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Supporting the involvement of youth is crucial in international decision making and in the implementation processes of ACE.

The concept of ACE also urges different countries to cooperate in this process, by exchanging good practices and lessons learned, and strengthening national institutions. All stakeholders of ACE, that is parties and CSOs, have agreed that the scale of the challenge posed by climate change requires these activities to be stepped up and that they should not only be collaborative but also country-driven, interdisciplinary and respect the culture of each participating country and group. For further details on ACE visit the official UNFCCC webpage. ACE Youth Forum

The ACE Youth Forum is an initiative of the Presidency of the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) and YOUNGO (the official youth constituency to UN Climate Change), in partnership with the Government of Canada, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNFCCC. The role of youth in this process cannot be neglected and is now crucial more than ever in shaping ACE and implementing its work programme to realizing the Paris Agreement. For this reason, the ACE Youth Forum 2018 (AYF18) was held in Bonn, Germany on 29 April 2018, just prior to the Bonn Climate Change Conference, SB48 and the in-session ACE Workshop. AYF18 provided a dedicated, informative and interactive space for youths in the lead up to the ACE Workshop, negotiations, dialogue and other Global Climate Action Agenda related events. The objectives of the forum was two-fold.


  • to effectively engage in ACE related negotiations

  • to develop creative and effective ACE-related climate actions

Knowledge Sharing

  • to allow youths to share stories of their climate action experiences, best practices and lessons learned relating - to the six elements of ACE

Marie-Claire and Jonas started their journey by meeting 110 outstanding and determined young leaders from around the world at the first-ever international ACE Youth Forum. Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC gave an opening speech, after which interactive sessions followed. These addressed questions such as how young people can effectively collaborate with the UNFCCC on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, in what ways can young people successfully link the UNFCCC process with their ACE-related activities at the national and sub-national levels, and how the Secretariat can empower young people in their climate actions.

Ms. Adriana Valenzuela, UNFCCC Focal Point for ACE, discussed with the participants challenges and opportunities of Youth ACE Action.

During AYF, Marie-Claire facilitated a session on youth engagement and how parties and youth can synergize together, such as to enhance collaboration on ACE activities on all levels.

Quote by UNFCCC: “The energy and innovation of youth are crucial to tackle climate challenges. This past Sunday, the ACE Youth Forum brought together 110 young climate leaders from around the world to discuss climate action and public awareness of climate issues.”

During SB48, every day started with a YOUNGO meeting where delegates from each YOUNGO organisation gather, share updates, and discuss the program of the day. The ACE working group had various strategy meetings to participate successfully in the negotiations, luckily, Yugratna and Tim, from the AYF Team had a party badge and where able to negotiate on behalf of Fiji for YOUNGO. At the joint press conference organized by the COP23 Presidency Marie-Claire presented the outcome of the AYF18 along with Maria, Yugratna & Tim (outcome and record) .

Members of Swiss civil society organizations had a meeting with the Swiss party delegation, including Chief Negotiator, Franz Perez (4th from the right), where he shared first-hand information as well as a positive update on the appointment of an ACE NFP and the establishment of an official Swiss youth delegate at COP24, which Franz attributed to Jonas’ and Swiss Youth for Climate’s persistent requests over the past 3 years. We will continue checking back and we keep you posted!

At SBI 47, Parties requested the secretariat to organize an in-session workshop at SB48, to develop a list of actions to enhance the implementation of the Paris Agreement through ACE-related activities. Parties and observers were invited to submit their views on the role of ACE and topics for the workshop that could enhance the implementation of ACE under the Paris Agreement. YOUNGO was working on a youth submission, whch can be found here. Marie-Claire and Jonas along with parties, representatives of relevant bodies established under the Convention, experts, youth, practitioners, and stakeholders attended the workshop, to discuss and develop a list of potential actions.

Five break-out groups were scheduled for each, the morning and the afternoon:

  • The morning break-out groups focussed on how to enhance the role of the implementation of the Paris Agreement through five of the six ACE elements, namely: Education, Training, Public awareness, Public participation, Public access to information.

  • The afternoon break-out groups addressed the sixth of the ACE elements, that is, international cooperation: Synergies and linkages among international frameworks related to ACE, Mainstreaming ACE into NDCs and NAPs, Assessing and monitoring ACE, Role of Non-Party stakeholders in implementing ACE, International Cooperation, partnerships and funding.

The youth requested parties for stronger commitments on ACE and sought ways to boost education, awareness, engagement and cooperation in the fight against climate change. Furthermore, she addressed the global ACE community on behalf of YOUNGO and Swiss Youth for Climate together with Alessandra, Harlino, Amasai & Pierre to present the outcome of the AYF18. The outcome of this ACE workshop can be found here.

Apart of the meeting with the Swiss delegation, we also met different Parties to discuss ACE on a national level. Following a picture from the meeting with Liberia, who were very excited to know how to advance ACE and youth activities.

Photo: Jonas Haller

At the “Talanoa Dialogue”, a meeting format established through the Fiji presidency, where people share stories while seated in a circle, Jonas was one of the four YOUNGO members to join the 195 party negotiators and share stories. He was able to share some insights on what youth are currently doing in the field of mitigation through education projects, and emphasised, how “free from short-term profit seeking, youths represent the true long-term perspective for our own future, as well as for generations to come”.

Back to the daily negotiations, the ACE journey ended in the second week with a historic success! After long and complicated discussions, history was made, as Parties agreed on the 1st draft decision - for consideration and adoption by the CMA (Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement) at its first session this November during COP24 - on Education with direct references to the AYF18 and ACE workshop outcomes. This means that young people are heard and do have a huge influence! Furthermore, it invites parties to invest more in education, training and capacity building activities for children and youth.

Swiss Youth for Climate would like to congratulate to the incredible work of ACE (youth) negotiators, UNFCCC secretariat & YOUNGO. Marie-Claire concludes: “I’m extremely excited and humbled to be part of this collective global achievement! It’s an incredible and unforgettable experience to work with such an inspiring and powerful crowd of amazing young people. It makes me more hopeful than ever, that we have the energy, means and voices and we together can shape our future.” Jonas is excited, and looks forward to see these policies implemented on the national level, for which we now have a good basis, but the work remains to be done. - Let’s keep the momentum and work nationally!

Also, Ms. Patricia Espinosa repeatedly expressed her excitement about the youth involvement: "Today, I congratulate YOUNGO for their hard work that has clearly shown good results in contributing to the drafting of the ACE decision."

Swiss Youth for Climate is looking back on two intense weeks at SB48, and is looking forward to the upcoming COP24 in November. Until then, we continue to engage on the national level.

Marie-Claire Graf, Swiss Youth for Climate delegate at SB48.

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