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At a glance: Denmark

Empowering Climate Ambassadors at the Children's Climate Forum as agents of change

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1983/Pires
All 165 delegates gathered on and around the stage to rehearse the official Children's Climate Forum song "It's My World." Countess Alexandra is visible within the crowd.

By Gerrit Beger

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 3 December 2009 – At the Children's Climate Forum in Denmark, young people are taking the lead in combining technology and grassroots interaction to find solutions in their work on climate change.

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The rapidly-changing digital landscape allows for different modes of activism and youth engagement, enabling motivated young people around the world to connect in new and meaningful ways.

Run-up to COP15

Using 'Unite for Climate' – UNICEF's social network for young people interested in the environment and climate change – delegates are discussing key issues and concerns and collaborating on shared recommendations for world leaders in the run-up to this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15).

© UNICEF/2009/Romboli
Climate Ambassadors participating in the Unite for Climate and on-line media workshop.

Delegates are also working with youth journalists to document their process using videos, audio clips, and forum newspapers, even as they are taking active strides to engage with a global audience of interested young people.

Using online video streaming, YouTube, Twitter, and an array of related web 2.0 tools and services, young people are taking climate change discussions out of Copenhagen and into 'the cloud', allowing young people around the world to join in via the web or mobile phones.

UNICEF's approach

Such events exemplify UNICEF's new approach in using technology to facilitate communication with and between young people, and to extend and enhance the impact of youth events. In an increasing number of countries, UNICEF works directly with local youth and technology communities to design culturally appropriate communication solutions that take into account regional norms and available technologies.

UNICEF sees such technologies as tools to extend programmatic goals, and is actively engaged in looking for innovative ways to reach those with limited connectivity or access to mobiles, thus supporting the idea that all young people have a right to participate in issues affecting their lives.

All UNICEF innovations-based software is open source, and related content is available through creative commons.

"Growing up in Kenya, I witnessed the rapid changes and how new technologies change the life of young people in the fulfilment of their rights to participate, but also being connected to their peers in industrialized countries," said Global Unite For Climate Coordinator Tony Nnamdi.

"Young people can learn from each other and also have better opportunities to advance their studies and professional careers in and outside the African continent."

Working with partners

UNICEF's approach also includes working actively with partners in academia, the UN,  the private sector and youth-based non-governmental organisations such as the Girl Guides and Scouts to advance shared goals.

From working with Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society to develop online safety guidelines, to collaborating with YouTube on the Youth Climate debates, UNICEF finds inventive ways to bring different groups together to benefit young people.

As part of their Dell YouthConnect  program, the Dell computer company has generously committed to donating 160 laptops to the Forum – one for each child – so the young attendees can engage online with other children around the world who want to have their voices heard on climate change.

To ensure the laptops become a tool for lasting change, after the Forum, UNICEF will distribute them to specially selected young Climate Change Activists who can continue championing young people's views on this issue.

"Dell views education and digital inclusion as critical to connecting youth to a more promising tomorrow. Empowering and educating youth on climate change issues is a critical component of our vision in preparing young people to maximize their potential," said Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Dell Gil Casellas.

Other partners include Google, who will be launching a mapping contest with the proceeds going to UNICEF's innovation work in January.

In addition, the IKEA Social Initiative is running a campaign in all IKEA stores worldwide, giving one solar desk lamp to UNICEF for each lamp sold, to help boys and girls in developing countries living with no electricity to study and read after dark.




UNICEF correspondent Natacha Ikoli reports on the Official Children's Climate Forum in Copenhagen this week.
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