YOUNG LEADERS from the world’s most climate-affected regions will gather from 28 August to 2 September at a Climate Justice Camp in Lebanon. The 450 participants from almost 100 countries across the Global South will co-create strategies and demands calling on decision makers at COP28 and beyond to implement an equitable climate action framework.

Following the stark warning from UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the urgent need for action on what he termed “global boiling” ahead of COP in the UAE, the Climate Justice Camp gives young people living the day-to-day realities of the climate crisis a space to exchange knowledge, develop demands, and lead conversations with decision makers in both local and global contexts.

An intersectional agenda of more than 100 workshops led by local leaders, organisers, and young changemakers will be featured, covering topics including finance, loss and damage, climate adaptation, and fossil fuel phase out; with the aim of building climate networks across the Global South that can work together to push for long-term political change.

The Climate Justice Camp in Lebanon is the second edition of this global grassroots event, building on the success of the inaugural September 2022 camp in Tunisia. More than 40 local and global organisations have worked collaboratively this year to bring together young people from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, South East Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Ayisha Siddiqa from Pakistan, human rights and land defender and Climate Advisor to the UN Secretary General, 2022 camp attendee in Tunisia and taking part again in Lebanon said: “We are in the eye of the storm now. The crises we once feared are accumulating and feeding off each other, while peasants, poor people, and Indigenous People are paying in life for the wealthy and privileged to ignore the issue at hand. There comes a time when you repeat the mistakes of history so often and at such a scale, you unlock a new portal of grave mistakes. How many times were we warned we were unleashing a monster we were not prepared for?

“This beast is slowly destroying life. Regions in the Middle East, which get the least attention but are arguably some of the most looted and impacted regions on Earth, first paid for fossil fuels with their life and are now paying in drought, flood, and hunger. It does not take a political scientist to understand that environmental disasters of such scale lead to political and social upheaval. The foundations of a market-based economy collapse fast and what we are left with is human suffering. More than ever we need people power, we need to unify across borders and regions, across cultures and languages, to fix what we have broken. That starts with us caring for each other and the planet like it’s the most precious resource to exist.”

Fatima-Zahrae Tarib from Morocco, youth climate advocate and political science major, also returning to the camp this year, said: “During my years  working for climate justice, I often found myself standing alone or among very few individuals from the Middle East and North Africa region mostly due to the absence of an established regional youth network to unite us. During the first Climate Justice Camp, I had the opportunity to meet and forge strong bonds with others who are active on climate here. A year on, our connections have grown, our networks have expanded, and we are working together and inspiring more young people from our region to demand climate action.”

Kenzie Azmi from Egypt, Campaigner, Greenpeace Middle East and North Africa said: “Communities in the Global South are facing unprecedented social, health, and economic challenges as the drivers of climate change further deepen historical injustices. Those living in frontline regions are suffering the most from a crisis they contributed the least to.

“The fossil fuel industry has driven increased frequency and intensity of weather and climate extremes, which disproportionately impacts communities, particularly in the Global South, that cannot mitigate them. We must show solidarity and demand global action for recovery and survival, which includes loss and damage financing, and system change that fast-tracks an equitable and just transition away from fossil fuels and towards  renewable energy, like solar and wind.”

* Source: Greenpeace International