Climate Change, Youth

A Story of Hope

Durban as a platform for youth involvement in combating climate change

Half of the world’s population is made of an amazing group young people, creative, strong and committed to finding solutions to the world’s greatest challenge; climate change. We traveled by road, sea and air to meet with our peers in Durban, South Africa for the UN climate talks.  We began our participation with a 3-day Conference of Youth (COY7) at the University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN). We held workshops on climate change policy, linking population and climate change, media and messaging, building youth climate coalitions and we dance to the tune of “Waka Waka- it time for Africa”.  We met too with ‘elders’ who are deciding what our future will look like – without much consideration of how and what we think. We, who will inherit the present unsustainable world whichever way they leave it.

Much was at stake. After the excitement, expectation and ultimate disappointment and farce of the Copenhagen summit in December 2009, the credibility of the entire UN process has been under great scrutiny. The 2010 conference in Cancún restored some faith, but as things stand there is still no legally binding international framework for cuts in carbon emissions beyond 2012. That is the point at which the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end. The future of the Kyoto Protocol has been a major sticking point for years, and was again at these talks. The final outcomes are a Green Climate Fund being instated, the Kyoto Protocol having a second commitment period and there being a road-map to a new legal binding treaty from 2015.


This year marked a great year for the youth climate movement as we were boosted with a permanent observer seat at the UNFCCC under the YOUNGO (Youth NGOs). What has been the most important and exciting news from the conference has been the involvement of youth. There is a story of hope from Durban—it’s the story of the youth and their allies who refused to remain silent, and who will stand up every day and everywhere and show the bravery we saw in South Africa. That’s how we’ll win this fight–and that’s the progress we’re most proud of.

3 Responses to “A Story of Hope”

  1. Steven Earl Salmony

    What we know about evolution would lead sensible people to conclude that there is nothing or precious little that can be done to change the human ‘trajectory’. So powerful is the force of evolution that we will “do what comes naturally” by continuing to overpopulate the planet and await the next phase of the evolutionary process. Even so, still hope resides within that somehow humankind will make use of its singular intelligence and other unique attributes so as to escape the fate that appears ‘as if through a glass darkly’ in the offing, the seemingly certain fate evolution appears to have in store for us. Come what may. In the face of all that we can see now and here, I continue to believe and to hope that we find adequate ways of consciously, deliberately and effectively doing the right things, according the lights and knowledge we possess, the things which serve to confront and overcome the ‘evolutionary trend’ which seems so irresistible.

  2. Steven Earl Salmony

    We have an overpopulation problem and in the face of that problem deniers and ‘business as usual’ enthusiasts often say cavalierly, “Have the courage to do nothing.” That ideas of this kind are ever associated with word courage is the height of dishonesty and duplicity. Such expressions are also the most profound examples of self-serving thought and individual cowardice I can imagine. That such a point of view is broadcast by the mainstream media is a sign to us of its wrongheadedness.

    Let us not fail for another year to examine and report on extant research of human population dynamics/human overpopulation. The refusal of many too many experts to assume their responsibilities to science and perform their duties to humanity could be one of the most colossal mistakes in human history. Such woefully inadequate behavior by deniers, as is evident in the collusion of many too many experts, will soon enough be replaced with objective observations and truthful expressions from those in possession of clear vision, intellectual honesty and moral courage.

    Why not acknowledge science regarding human overpopulation and, by so doing, take a path toward sustainability? If we keep repeating the mistakes made in the past by denying science, nothing new and different can happen. Without an open acknowledgement of the root cause(s) of what is ailing the human family, how are we to move forward to raise awareness of the global predicament? Once awareness is raised among a critical mass of people, it becomes possible to organize for the purpose of formulating policies and actionable programs. Denial has kept us and continues to keep us from gaining momentum needed to address and overcome the human-driven challenges that currently threaten human well being and environmental health.

  3. Steven Earl Salmony

    Everywhere we look there are virtual mountains of evidence to be found of the clever manipulation of human intellect by ‘the brightest and best’, usually for the purpose of securing selfish interests. Self-proclaimed masters of the universe, their many highly educated sycophants and absurdly enriched minions are established experts at ignoring ‘reality’ when it serves their pragmatic desires. The step that makes it possible for human beings with feet of clay to subordinate personal interests so as to see what is before their eyes, is not an easy one. All of us get use to seeing the world in certain ways, according to what is logically contrived, politically correct, economically expedient, socially agreeable, religiously tolerable, culturally prescribed and ubiquitously shared through the mass media. Most of the time popular ways of viewing the world are sufficiently reality-oriented. But occasionally advances in science disturb even the most widely held and consensually validated understandings with regard to the way the world we inhabit works as well as about the placement of the human species within the natural order of living things. Perhaps we are witnesses to such a scientific advance, or maybe not. Whatever the case, whatever the ‘reality’ of human population dynamics, let us make sure that the Population Action International community is not simply and plainly just one more academic bastion of intellectual cowardice. When the subject is human population dynamics, it seems to me that there are currently enough “ivory towers”, professional societies and international organizations whose members favor intellectual dishonesty, hysterical blindness, willful deafness and elective mutism.

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