Youth in Climate Action Virtual Conference – 28 and 29 October 

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues affecting young people today, and the youth are among the most vulnerable groups to the impacts of climate change, particularly in developing countries like Sri Lanka. Considering our country’s existing socioeconomic setups, vulnerabilities, and sensitivities, the particular physical hazards of climate change have the potential to affect communities, different populations, and subgroups in complex ways.

The “Youth in Climate Action Virtual Conference”, scheduled to be held on 28 and 29 October, hopes to create a fruitful conversation regarding these potential impacts, while also making the youth aware of what’s to come.

The event will be held as a run-up to the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which will be hosted by the UK in Glasgow, Scotland from 1 to 12 November 2021. To support COP26 ambitions, the British Council is working with partners worldwide to provide a platform for global climate co-operation, dialogue, and action.

Under the larger theme of “The Climate Connection”, the Youth in Climate Action Conference aims to bring young people and relevant stakeholders to hold discussions around the following thematic areas related to climate change, including policy engagement and public awareness on climate action; showcase youth engagement and advocacy; and also provide a platform and agency for youth and stakeholders to build a conversation and commitment to address climate issues.

The event will contribute to setting up dialogue and conversations that will lead to recommendations and ideas for the future, celebrate the success of youth leaders working on reducing climate change impacts, and discuss research evidence on how young people can effectively contribute to climate action priorities set out by the Government of Sri Lanka, the UK, and COP26.

The event will also showcase youth leaders in Sri Lanka already engaged in climate action, thereby encouraging more young people to participate in climate action.

Speaking to us, British Council Manager – Marketing and Communications Safra Anver shared that the main aim of the conference is to formally launch the Youth Perception Research Study on Climate, which was presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa two weeks ago.

Considering how young people are also our future leaders, who will be the next generation of decision-makers, their attitudes and actions will prove decisive for how the world addresses climate change mitigation and adaptation. Therefore, it is critical to get a deeper understanding of their perceptions and understanding of climate change and action. As such, the research, which is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme, which aims to bring people around the world together to address the challenges of climate change, was conducted with 1,000 Sri Lankan youth who shared perspectives on climate change and action.

Anver provided that the report found a consistent call for young people to be included in policy decisions, stating that according to the findings, young people felt that their involvement would ensure more innovative ideas for tackling climate change and would have a wider, more effective reach. The findings emphasised a clear need for policymakers to channel the passion and enthusiasm of young people in more practical and structured ways.