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6 October 2023

Young leaders around Australia are coming together to be heard on climate change.

The Local Conference of Youth (LCOY) aims to amplify young voices from around Australia and increase their engagement with climate change policymaking at local, regional and national levels. Around 200 young people around the country are expected to attend and participate in a series of conference events online and in person.

Young people participating in the Conference will contribute to a national youth statement which will inform global youth policy positions at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) which takes place in the United Arab Emirates later this year. This will be the second time that young Australians have produced a statement of this kind.

“With COP28 less than two months away, globally, all governments should ensure that national climate plans and policies protect, prepare, and prioritise children and young people in the climate crisis,” said Nishadh Rego, Climate Advisor at UNICEF Australia.

UNICEF Australia plans to present the national youth statement on behalf of young people to the Australian Government and Ministers responsible for climate in the coming months.

“Close to 90% of children in Australia have experienced at least one climate disaster in their lifetime from floods to bushfires and increasing heatwaves,” said Mr Rego.

“The problems that this creates for young people and families are tangible. At the extreme, young people lose their homes, their schools, their education and healthcare are disrupted, the emergencies cause trauma and ongoing mental health stress, and sometimes their parents lose their livelihoods.

“Incremental changes matter too – in a heatwave, children can’t play outside, if buildings are not cool enough children find it difficult to concentrate and learning outcomes decline.

“It has never been more important for young Australians to feel heard on the impact of a changing climate. Young people carry the greatest burden in years to come but are the least responsible for the situation.”

By 2050, with a projected 2.4 degrees of warming, UNICEF estimates that:

  • Every child in Australia will be subject to more than 4.5 heatwaves a year
  • Up to 2.2m Australian children could be living in areas where heatwaves will last longer than 4.7 days
  • 10% of Australian children could be living in areas where severe heatwave events will occur
  • The number of children who live in areas where the temperature exceeds 35°C for 83+ days a year could double.