For many years, young people have been engaging in the UNFCCC processes as observers through the official youth constituency, YOUNGO and other regional networks like Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC). This kind of engagement was informed by article 6 of the Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) and now article 12 of the Paris Agreement, which stresses the need for climate change awareness and education. Cognizant of the continuous nature of climate change negotiations, young people with the relevant expertise and interest in climate change negotiations have been working hard both at the national level and regionally to understand these processes and where possible identify mentors for hands-on experience, an effort that was noticed and made possible by the current chair of the African Group of Negotiators.
COP 24 was a very important COP for young people in the continent of Africa after realizing one of our dreams in pursuit of knowledge in climate change negotiations. In this COP, the AGN Chair through the Junior Negotiators Programme was able to mobilize resources to identify and facilitate junior negotiators to attend and participate in climate change negotiations under the supervision of different Lead Negotiators in Katowice Poland. I was lucky to participate and was assigned Transparency agenda item under the Supervision of the Transparency Lead Negotiator Mr. Andrew Marquard. There can’t be a better experience than following a thematic area of your interest under a supervisor passionate about the development of young people. The Lead Negotiator with his dedicated team ensured that I was able to understand the history of transparency negotiations and immediately fit in and start following the negotiations. It was a dream come true for me, having to follow both formal and informal negotiations and assist both my supervisor and the AGN Chair where necessary and as requested. Though with sleepless nights, it was a rare opportunity coming into terms with the realty of both the art and science of negotiations. I also realized that the only way to be trained and mentored as a negotiator is to be continuously exposed to actual negotiations. With the obligation to report to the chair at least twice a week, I was able to keep track of transparency negotiations against the AGN position therefore being able to understand the interest of Africa as far as the transparency negotiations are concerned.
I hope I will be part of the future of Africa as a Junior Negotiator with the required understanding and knowledge on the history of issues and who can effectively negotiate for the African Continent.
Fredrick Ochieng Ouma
African Group of Negotiators (AGN) Junior Negotiator