Fifty years after the United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment, world leaders traveled to Stockholm+50 to discuss the multilateral environmental action needed to secure a better future on a healthy planet. Sweden hosted Stockholm+50 with the support of Kenya from 2-3 June and celebrated the 50 years of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNDP). Before this, the UN Science, Business and Policy Forum was also hosted from 1-4 June in Stockholm.
Traveling to Stockholm, I worked with the Fossil Fuel non-proliferation treaty, actively working for the treaty to be on the table of decision making. The treaty team organized the Stockholm+50 Pre-Summit on the Just Transition from Fossil Fuels and many treaty campaigns and supporters joined as speakers. I was one of the panelists at The next 50 years: Youth demands for Stockholm+50.
Though it was a celebration of 50 years of the UN Conference on the Human Environment, for a Global South activist, it has been 50 years of inaction and exclusion. The exclusion started at the stage of securing visa to travel. Many young people from Africa didn’t receive any provision in securing their visas; even the embassy of Sweden that’s supposed to prioritize the process for the conference attendees didn’t help. Even the ID badge distribution was disorganized. We were not allowed to enter the conference with signs/placards even though we had our entry passes. They made sure that activists can’t protest and demand climate justice.
The conference discussed topics related to COP27. It was a platform to connect with more people, not a decision-making table. The conference focused on:
- reflecting on the urgent need for actions to achieve a healthy planet and prosperity for all;
- achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the COVID19 pandemic ;
- accelerating the implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.
Stockholm+50 is the first to recommend the phase-out of all fossil fuels. As a supporter of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and an active campaigner of the Green New Deal in Bangladesh, it is a significant milestone. In Stockholm+50, the UN youth and children major group also published a youth policy paper.
I joined the UN Science, Business and Policy Forum on 31st May to understand views on business and science integration with climate policies. On 1st June, I was a panelist in the Stockholm+50 Pre-Summit on the Just Transition from Fossil Fuels. Later that day, we joined a protest to ask for a global treaty to phase out all fossil fuels. At the conference, other than joining the panels and side events of the conference, I hosted a small standing protest where activists and organizations shed more light on the effects of burning more fossil fuels and why we need a treaty. I also joined a multistakeholder meeting with the UN women where we as youth from Generation Equality Forum and the Feminist coalition for climate Justice shared our demands and asked other stakeholders about their actions, especially on climate finance. More than 5000 people were on the road asking for a global treaty for just transition, an ecocide law, and action against plastic pollution and climate justice.
As a youth activist who has been born in the era of the climate breakdown and can’t afford to lose hope for a better future, international conferences like the Stockholm+50 become very tiring to me. I feel pressured to follow everything going around, and worse, my expectations are shattered by policymakers when they try to negotiate on our future while we are not sitting in the negotiating table. Yet, these conferences are very important as we want our leaders to act on climate finance, just transition of energy, inequality, and loss and damage from climate impacts. I see the importance of youth being more involved in the policymaking process so even with baby steps, we are taking over the place we deserve.
With the knowledge from the Stockholm+50, we need to move forward to COP27 where we want real action on fossil fuel phase-out with a well-embedded just transition plan. We are continuing our campaign for a Green New Deal in the energy sector of Bangladesh. The transition from coal is a good initiative by the Bangladesh government, however, it’s very slow, not to mention the plans to shift to oil and gas could make it impossible for a just transition to happen. We want more investment in renewable energy. At COP27, we need to see a clear roadmap from the global north regarding climate adaptation funding.