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A year ago, I attended the UN meeting on Climate Change (COP17) in Durban hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Young leaders from the Philippines, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria and the United States came together to advocate for the prioritization of young people’s sexual and reproductive and rights in the climate change negotiations.

However, the UNFCCC disappointedly failed to adequately discuss education of girls and boys, empowerment of women, and demand for voluntary family planning, and access to comprehensive, youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services as important.

As a result, Advocates for Youth (Advocates) in partnership with youth organizations around the world submitted a letter to the Executive Secretary, Ms. Figueres, requesting the opportunity to meaningfully engage in the UNFCCC process.  In her reply, she recommended that we reach out to the Adaptation Committee and the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) to pursue further dialogue about the importance of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights within the UNFCCC.

Now, we are only a few days until COP18 and it’s time to push for the UNFCCC to engage with young people to make gender, young people and sexual and reproductive health and rights priorities in the negotiations and beyond.

Advocates, in partnership with several youth organizations around the world, are requesting that the Adaptation Committee take the following actions:

  • • include discussion of gender, young people, and sexual and reproductive health and rights as it pertains to climate change adaptation and mitigation upon providing technical support and guidance to the Parties;
  • • share relevant information, knowledge, experience and illustrative good practices on sexual and reproductive health and rights programming as part of the technical support and guidance provided to the Parties; and
  • • promote synergy and strengthen engagement between national, regional and international organizations, centers and networks that are working on climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people.

In addition, we are asking for the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) to take the following actions:

1. As it pertains to the technical guidance for the NAP process, to:

    • o include discussion of gender, young people, and sexual and reproductive health and rights as it pertains to climate change adaptation and mitigation;
    • o if there is a section on case studies, include a country example where addressing gender vulnerabilities and related adaptation solutions in the main part of the document; and
    • o if there is a section or annex on key vulnerabilities and adaptation solutions, include at least one example that addresses gender and sexual and reproductive health/family planning solutions.

2. In addition, to include discussion of gender, young people, and sexual and reproductive health and rights as it pertains to climate change adaptation and mitigation during regional training workshops for LDC Parties on technical guidance, sharing of best practices and lessons learned, and promotion of regional and international synergies.

And what better time than now?

Today, over 222 million women around the world face an unmet need for contraception (they don’t want to become pregnant, but are not using reliable contraception).  The ability to access sexual and reproductive health information and services is a human right that empowers individuals, particularly young people, to make healthy choices for themselves and their families that will help build resilience against the negative impacts of climate change.

Stay tuned for regular updates on Advocates’ Time is Now campaign in Doha!