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Involvement of Arctic youth in mitigating climate change

In response to the growing number of engaged youths in the intergovernmental climate change process, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) extended constituency status in 2009 to admitted youth-led non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This allowed them to receive official information, participate in meetings, request speaking slots, and receive logistical support at UNFCCC conferences (UN Youth, 2013). Participation is a fundamental right, and the UN has long recognized that young people are a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic growth, and technological innovation[1].
“Arctic youth is not just the future but also the present”

Arctic Leaders’ Youth Summit, Rovaniemi 2019[2]
In the context of the Circumpolar North, the Sustainable Development Program of the Arctic Council has included efforts to engage youth since 2017 as part of their work to advance sustainable development in the region. Working groups such as the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) have not only been examining how youth are affected by a changing Arctic but also actively involving them in their projects. One example is the Indigenous Youth, Food Knowledge, and Arctic Change (EAULU) II project that builds competence among reindeer herding youth in different regions. Bringing young indigenous people together across different Arctic regions is critical for the maintenance of Arctic biodiversity and the sustainable development of Arctic indigenous societies[3].
CAFF has developed an 'Arctic Youth Engagement Strategy: 2021-2026,' which, over the next years, will collaborate with Arctic states, youth organizations, and other partners to expand opportunities for youth and support emerging youth leaders from the Arctic (CAFF, 2021). An important motivation for this strategy is to enhance youth access to policy and development. When Arctic youth are provided with diverse learning opportunities in which they feel that their perspectives and expertise are valued and respected, they can utilize their individual and collective power to help shape a better future for the Arctic.  More specifically focused on permafrost, the Permafrost Researchers Young Network (PYRN) was founded in 2005 to create a platform for education and outreach activities. The network supports young researchers in the field, and it was led and managed by young researchers. By 2010, it had grown to encompass 800 members from 40 countries.

[2] Indigenous youth leaders at the first Arctic Leaders’ Youth Summit, 2019, https://www.arctic-council.org/news/stepping-up-youth-engagement-in-the-arctic-council/