YMCA at COP27: We have a decision. Now what?

Date: 21 November 2022

By Stefanie Tornow, Germany and Shakil Karim, USA

Shakil and Stefanie led the YMCA delegation at COP 27.

Early Sunday morning on 20 November 2022, UN Member States managed to come to a decision, officially ending the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP27 for short –  in Egypt’s Sharm el Sheik. The negotiations were long and hard, and the outcomes were not as good as we had hoped. Hope and frustration are always close together when it comes to climate negotiations, and this COP was no different. 

Member States were not able to get a fossil fuel phase-out into the text, and they didn’t push further on a just transition to a green and sustainable future. However, they reached a historic decision to launch a ‘loss and damage fund’ for countries acutely impacted by climate change. Developing countries have been pushing for this for over 30 years, and there it was.

Young people are at the center of this climate crisis. We are not always an easy group to find, particularly among the powerful and the wealthy. A planet is being left to us in disarray, and we are inheriting a burden which we too are trying to carry. We are not afraid of the work or change this will take, as long as that goal means a future in which a harmonious society can collectively exist in peace – for everyone, not just for some.

The World Alliance of YMCAs has sent a delegation to these climate negotiations since 2012. This year, we had 14 highly motivated members in our delegation, from places all around the world. Our delegates followed negotiations closely, contacted their national leaders, and connected with other young people from across the globe. They advocated for youth empowerment, youth-led climate action and solutions, for a better world for future generations. They were clear: we must keep the 1.5°C target alive.

With most of us going home or already back at home, it’s now time for us to review these past two weeks, look at what we achieved and what this means for our future. There’s much more to process in the next few days and weeks, but we will try to make a brief summary here.

We look back with a mix of emotions, with gratitude for our inspirational delegates, and with pride in how they represented their communities, their work and their power. Our delegation has learned much during COP27, and we will bring that knowledge and experience back to our YMCAs. They are already exceptional leaders, and they inspire us with their commitment and strength. They will play an important part in shaping the way the YMCA Movement responds to the third Pillar of YMCA Vision 2030, which is our quest for a Sustainable Planet. Having seen this delegation at work, their courage and tenacity, we are sure that we are in good hands.

The YMCA COP27 delegates were:

Heads of the delegation:

  • Stefanie Tornow, Germany
  • Shakil Karim, USA

Youth leaders:

  • Pace Ng, China
  • Tudor Reus, Romania – COP27 Blog
  • Maria Mjaaland, Norway – COP27 Blog
  • Loris Tarazi, Palestine
  • Claire Warmels, Canada
  • Beyan Harris, Liberia
  • Emma Andersson, Sweden
  • Tuulia Toivanen, Finland – COP27 Blog
  • Marouane Joundi, Canada
  • Ricardo Moyano, Mexico
  • BengSeng Chang, Asia & Pacific Alliance of YMCAs

Click here for a look back at the YMCA at COP26.