Youth to Make the Weather on Climate Adaptation: GCA marks International Youth Day in Costa Rica with Final Regional Youth Adaptation Forum

More than 250 in-person and 650 virtual youth participants gathered on 12th August at the University of Costa Rica in San José for the Latin American and Caribbean Youth Adaptation Forum on International Youth Day.

T he gathering was the seventh forum in a series of consultations aimed at securing youth participation in the global adaptation agenda.

The event was organized by GCA in collaboration with the Climate Vulnerable Forum, the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Costa Rica, La Ruta del Clima, and the Costa Rican Youth and Climate Change Network.

The Latin American and Caribbean Youth Adaptation Forum kicked off with inspirational remarks by Ms. Cheymi Gallardo, a representative of the Cabécar Indigenous Territory in Talamanca, Costa Rica. Ms. Gallardo, who is also the Coordinator for RIBCA Youth Group and Sá Jú Tsa Tkö, explained that for Indigenous people, the future is Mother Earth.

“If we don’t protect the environment now, there will be no future. Indigenous territories have been adapting to massive changes over many years…these territories have been resilient, adapting to these changes in search of improvement.”

Formally opening the Forum, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Central America, H.E. Christine Pirenne, stated, “Youth all over the world have given a phenomenal impulse to the movement, calling for the need to change things.”

Delivering the keynote speech, the CEO of GCA, Professor Dr. Patrick Verkooijen, called on youth to promptly take their place in accelerating adaptation action.

“There is this expression ‘to make the weather’…what it means is that those global leaders who change the arc of history, they ‘make the weather’, they drive transformational change. And I believe each one of you in this auditorium, each one of you online, is capable of making the weather, of driving this transformational change, because it requires one idea, one big bold idea, to go to scale. So let us all make the weather”.

Read more in Professor Verkooijen’s Statement on International Youth Day.

Ms. Irene Rodríguez Arce, Member of the Costa Rican Youth and Climate Change Network (RJCCCR), delivered a compelling statistical presentation highlighting millions of dollars in losses from climate events in different Latin American countries including Honduras, which lost 70 percent of its GDP after the devastating Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Mr. Ivan Delgado, Director of Climate Change for the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, quoted Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in his powerful speech, demanding, “No more blah blah blah.”
During the intergenerational dialogue on the role of youth in climate adaptation, Ms. Patricia Portela de Souza, UNICEF Representative in Costa Rica, shared statistics from Children’s Climate Change Index on the scope of children’s exposure to climate impacts.  
According to the Index, a staggering 1 billion children, almost half of the world’s children, live in countries that are in extremely high risk of climate impacts.
The young panelists in the dialogue, which included two representatives of Indigenous territories in Latin America, a youth representative from Nicaragua, and a member of RJCCCR shared that young people’s greatest obstacles to participate in adaptation action are obtaining access to financing, technical assistance, employment and support to access their local governments.
In conclusion, Ms. Aoife Fleming, GCA’s Youth Leadership and Education Officer, called on young people to join GCA’s Youth Adaptation Network, sign up to the newsletter, and participate in the culminating event of the regional Youth Adaptation Forums, the GCA Youth Dialogue on Adaptation Action: Delivering on the Glasgow Climate Pact scheduled for 3-4th September in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, ahead of the Africa Adaptation Summit on 5th September.

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