Europe and Central Asia Regional Adolescent Climate Action Platform established under the auspices of Emine Erdoğan, First Lady of Türkiye

22 November 2022
UNICEF
UNICEF

ANKARA, 22 November 2022 – 20 adolescents elected to the Child Advisory Board from Türkiye and 20 adolescents from 15 countries in Europe and Central Asia gathered in Ankara from 20 to 22 November 2022 for the 23rd Children’s Forum organized by the Ministry of Family and Social Services and UNICEF.   

This year, the Children’s Forum taking on a regional outlook focuses on climate change and the environment with a collaborative call to “Design the Future Together”.  The outcomes of the Forum were presented to Emine Erdoğan, the First Lady, Derya Yanık, Minister of Family and Social Services, and Regina de Dominicis, UNICEF Representative to Türkiye at the Presidential Complex.  

The young delegates called on officials to partner with young people and support children’s participation in climate action nationally, regionally, and globally. The children also established a Regional Adolescent Climate Action Network to strengthen their participation and engagement within the region.  Both initiatives were welcomed by the First Lady, Ministry of Family and Social Services, UNICEF, parliamentarians, and other high-level officials.    

The newly formed Regional Adolescent Climate Action Network will help young people exchange experiences and learn from each other and collaborate better across countries towards effective climate action, sustainable development and the realization of their rights and full potential. 

"Children rights are being heavily affected by climate change and evidence and data show us that the situation is quickly deteriorating. However, they are not adequately represented in policy formulation processes. At this forum, we have heard that they have a common demand: be engaged meaningfully in the development of comprehensive climate action plans. As UNICEF, we are calling on government and businesses and relevant actors to include young people in all national, regional and international climate negotiations and decisions. Young people have the power to transform threats into opportunities. We can only benefit from having them at the table.” said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Representative to Türkiye.  

Türkiye for the first time decided to extend the invitation to the Children's Forum to youth from other countries – recognizing this year’s topic on climate change as a common threat – which goes beyond borders. The invitation was taken up by youths from 15 countries in Europe and Central Asia and they had the opportunity to exchange on environmental issues and propose solutions on climate change. 

Minister of Family and Social Services Derya Yanık said the following at the closing ceremony: “It is a very proud development for us that the 23rd Children's Forum, which took place this year, gained an international identity. Strengthening the existence of children in all areas of life and seeing the magnificent potential of the children of the world gave us all a different happiness. As we meet our children, who offer solutions to important global problems every year, we believe that the future of our world is secure. This year, we find it important for our children to address a global issue such as "Climate Change and Child Participation" and to offer effective solutions. We know that our world is the common living space of all people and that the wind of the butterfly flapping its wings at one end of the world is affecting the children at the other end of the world. At this point, we are all aware that respecting natural life and our environment is one of our important responsibilities. We often remember that the opportunities we have achieved as a result of technological developments are not an alternative to nature. We see that surfing the Internet is not the same as swimming in the sea, that the farms established with computer games do not feed our physical development, that the time spent on social media does not replace friendships, that digital environments are not enough to maintain a healthy life. Only if we live in peace with nature and respecting the rights of nature can we open the door to a healthy and happy future.”

First Lady Emine Erdoğan talked about climate change and environmental issues with the young people she met at the Presidential Complex and she said the following: “The future sprouts with children. We borrowed this world from them. The saying “Children make up of one third of our population today and the whole of our future” expresses this fact very well. Solving the problems that concern children and leaving them a fair world is our main responsibility. With this awareness, we all want to prepare a legacy for future generations. But inheritance is not just about gains. Sometimes, deficiencies, losses, mistakes are also inherited. Therefore, we must cooperate in solving the problems of our age. This is our debt to both children and the future. In this sense, climate change is the biggest global problem of the century that humanity has to face. While this vital crisis directly affects 8 billion people and all living things, unfortunately, children are disproportionately affected. In this respect, climate change has turned into a child rights issue in itself. To live is the most fundamental right of every child and it is our duty to protect this right. We all agree that they have inalienable rights such as clean environment, clean air, clean water, clean food, education and play. However, in order to deliver these rights to them completely, we need to create their equivalents in life. It is a fact that not all countries are equally affected by the environmental and economic effects of climate change. In fact, the countries that have become the most risky regions have the lowest share of global greenhouse gas emissions. African countries are among them. Whoever does the least damage suffers the most. So much so that even the number of livable geographies began to decline. Due to these conditions, the concept of ‘climate refugee’ has emerged. People now emigrate not only to escape the war, but also to escape the devastating effects of climate change. Against such a picture, the most important duty of us adults is to show determination in the fight against climate change and to produce policies that are sensitive to children. As Türkiye, we are a global actor in the fight against climate change. We approach this common issue of humanity with the philosophy of 'the world is our common home'. As you know, our 'zero waste project' has been welcomed by the international community. I am very happy to express that the number of endorsements under the “Zero Waste Declaration of Goodwill” that we opened for signature during the 77th Assembly of the United Nations is increasing day by day. This effort is for all children of the world to benefit equally and fairly from a prosperous future.”

Child Advisory Board  

Child Advisory Board is the consultative body of Provincial Child Rights Committees, which has been acting as the wider engagement mechanism in Türkiye since 2000. Provincial delegates elect 20 adolescents (10 girls 10 boys) among themselves to represent committees in national and global policy-level discussions. Board members serve for two years and work closely with the Minister, UNICEF Representative and other high-level officials.  

Children’s Forum  

Children’s forum is the annual gathering platform of provincial child rights committees which were established in 2000. In each province of Türkiye, adolescents between 12-18 can be part of these committees and implement their projects with their peers. UNICEF and the Ministry of Family and Social Services provides financial and technical support to committees. On 20 November, provincial delegates meet in Ankara to discuss their concerns and submit a declaration to General National Assembly of Türkiye. 

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