Yesterday, YMCA received news of the Government of Chile’s decision, on account of the ongoing civil unrest, to withdraw from hosting the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP), the world’s main climate change annual forum, with much disappointment and sadness. Disappointment not just because of the confusion being experienced by delegates and climate activists, including young people from YMCA, but mostly due to the nuanced implication of this withdrawal.
Climate justice is strongly related to social justice. Our thoughts are with the people of Chile in their quest for social justice. COP25 signifies a turning point in addressing the climate emergency. It is closely linked to social vulnerability, environmental justice and emerging efforts to address Eco-anxiety, a real concern in as far as mental health. These are serious issues and World YMCA stands in solidarity with all those demanding urgent climate action.
YMCA joins the many delegates who have over the years diligently attended the COP in waiting and hoping as the United Nations explores alternative hosting options. YMCA delegates were expected to join the 25,000 delegates in Santiago (Chile) between 2 – 13 December. The cancellation news came as a shock, considering that logistical preparations have already been made.
Tonight, we received the news of alternative hosting by Spain with a glimmer of hope. We however wish to also continue in solidarity with people of Chile and hope that a resolution will be found soon to address the social challenges that encumber them.
As young people around the globe have clearly shown this year through their unprecedented global mobilisation, climate crisis is not an issue that we can treat lightly. We cannot let young people’s hopes down and ignore this issue when the planet is at a growing risk of irreversible damage. This is an issue that we must address today and now, an issue that must be treated as it actually is: a real global emergency.
Despite the COP25 relocation we must not however forget the social justice issues affecting the Chilean people. Now more than ever, the world needs to listen; listen to young people; listen to quests for social justice and choose to reflect and take action for protecting our only planet.