COP28 delegate Tudor Rus: Young people hold key to the future

Date: 11 December 2023

By Tudor Rus

YMCA Romania 

Tudor Rus served as a YMCA delegate at COP28, or the United Nations Conference of the Parties, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He also attended COP27 last year in Egypt; here, he writes about his experience and the role of young people in addressing climate challenges. 

As we approach the 1.5°C barrier in the fight against the accelerated consequences of climate change, the engagement of young people in global talks is more important than ever. Their voices carry the urgency and inventiveness required to move the globe towards a more sustainable future.

Young people are not only tomorrow’s leaders; they are today’s leaders. The enthusiasm, energy, and new ideas add urgency and purpose to climate debates. It is critical to ensure their perspectives are heard and considered when developing environmental policies that represent the different demands of current and future generations. 

Climate conferences, such as the COP, are well-known for bringing together nations, indigenous peoples, young people, and the media. The whole point of these climate conferences is to determine the best judgements based on science – decisions that should be made with justice in mind for all parties concerned.

However, as is frequently the case, these judgements are made based on someone’s particular agenda or objective. Some are concerned with how to negotiate new deals about fossil resources. Others are concerned with how to preserve their country from a climatic collapse, and yet others are concerned with ensuring that our generation of young people has a place to call home. We believe our opinions should be heard in the decision-making process. 


Our route to a more sustainable world is fraught with difficulties, and the lack of a united global strategy stymies progress. We, as young people, can be change agents because we share a feeling of responsibility for the earth we will inherit. As young people, it is our responsibility to push for renewable energy, sustainable practices, and environmentally responsible regulations. 


As a result, including young people in decision-making processes is more than symbolic; it is a strategic requirement. Because we have a stake in the future, our ideas are vital in developing policies that are forward-thinking and adaptive. 

In terms of my COP experience, I am continuously looking for quotes and ideas that I can take back with me and build around.

During the WWF pavilion conference on day one, I heard a comment on the future of COP conferences. 

“The future of the planet belongs to the young people,” was the remark that motivated me and made me consider how we as young people may influence climate challenges. 

And we, as young people, are the torchbearers of innovation, change agents, and development architects. Moving forward with this vision, young people have the key to unlocking a future that is in sync with the requirements of our changing planet. It is in our hands to develop sustainability, promote diversity, and pioneer answers to the difficulties that lie ahead.