Youth Inclusion and COP 28: The Dominican Republic and the International Program of Young Climate Delegates

Dominican representatives receive recognition for their leadership at COP 28 on climate change

When I am asked to describe Dominican youth in the area of ​​climate change , the first word that comes to mind is excellence. But how would you define it? I believe this noun represents the spirit of making the most of an opportunity, a limited privilege, ethically and diligently. And as far as young people in the Dominican Republic are concerned, 2023 has been about entering those spaces they could only dream of accessing before, and gaining notoriety for their many positive contributions to society. Earlier this year, the COP 28 Presidency, held by the United Arab Emirates, announced the selection of 100 delegates for the International Young Climate Delegates Program (IYCDP) who will join the COP process, prioritizing youth from Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), indigenous peoples and other underrepresented groups around the world. The IYCDP is the largest initiative to date to expand youth participation in international climate negotiation processes, providing training to 100 young delegates and fully funding their attendance at COP 28, establishing a model of inclusion youth for future COPs. More than 4,000 applicants submitted their application, and of the 100 people selected, two are from the Dominican Republic. In today’s segment, we are pleased to interview Eusebio Castro and Persis Ramírez, the only Dominicans represented in this inaugural IYCDP cohort.

Dominican representatives receive recognition for their leadership at COP 28 on climate change
Young Dominicans stand out in the fight against climate change at the international level. ( 
EXTERNAL SOURCE )

What aspects of climate justice do you find most important? 

Persis: Coming from a small island developing state, I have always been struck by how difficult it is for people in the Caribbean to respond to loss and damage caused by hydrometeorological events. Growing up in a coastal city, I frequently saw vulnerable people, such as women, children and people with disabilities, unable to access the information necessary to respond to these types of phenomena and the resources necessary to deal with them.Eusebio: Firstly, respect for the principles of international human rights law that are included in international instruments, specifically the principle of progressivity, and secondly, the integration of human rights in the negotiations on climate and on climate issues, particularly loss and damage, because I believe that this is strictly a climate justice issue and should be considered that way, not only in the framework of the UNFCCC negotiations, but everywhere else.

What involvement did you have with climate justice before applying to this program? 

Eusebio: Actually, I was not very involved because I wanted to dedicate myself to other human rights, in this case, freedom of expression. Right after working with the Columbia project on Global Freedom of Expression, I realized that freedom of expression is important, but it was not the main area I wanted to work on. After completing a class on Environmental Law, I focused on Environmental, Social and Cultural Rights, which I really liked. I started to investigate that field even more and I realized that it is very broad and interesting because it is all interconnected, and I was looking for that type of field: something multidisciplinary, with multiple focuses and that was fascinating.

Persis : My involvement began with the defense of the right to water, which was shortly before finishing my degree in civil engineering. I was very interested in access to water and sanitation because of its connection with public health, environmental protection and how it is intertwined with the climate. Two years ago, I attended a conference on adaptation, where I heard a phrase that stuck with me: “water is to adaptation what energy is to mitigation.” My defense of climate change began with my participation in Youth for Climate Milan, in 2021. It was a great activity that brought together young people from all over the world, where the idea was to deliver the Youth for Climate Manifesto, which is a set of recommendations for high-level stakeholders and COP 26 participants at the time. I don’t think there is a specific path of advocacy for anyone. I started as a participant, and now I am able to lead and take on greater challenges. Any contribution is positive.

How do you think this program helps advance climate justice in the Dominican Republic? How will it be different from your previous international experiences? 

Eusebio : The program will have a great impact in the Dominican Republic: first, because there are two representatives of our country in this first cohort. I think the biggest impact will be on youth representation on climate issues, where we are often underrepresented, not only at the convention but also in other mechanisms. Secondly, I think this show will be different because it will give me an even broader platform to perform. The platform, this time, is endorsed by the COP Presidency, which is a strong characteristic that other initiatives do not have. I believe that now we will have the opportunity not only to be heard, but to make the voices of those who are not heard heard.

Persis : I believe that this program will make the voices of marginalized communities that are not usually represented in these spaces heard. I don’t tend to participate in high-level events, but when I do, I try to see who is present, who is not, and why. I am often one of the few women in the room, one of the few young or young professionals, and perhaps the only person from the Caribbean. That saddens me because small island developing states and the Caribbean region, specifically, have done very little to contribute to this enormous challenge that is climate change . Young people do not have a seat as negotiators in many of these processes, but that does not mean that we cannot influence the negotiations or the implementation of public policies.

How will you use this platform to advocate for climate justice before and during COP 28? 

Eusebio : To apply to the program, there was a part where you had to answer the same question, and I made a three-step plan, which consisted of collecting information, disseminating it, creating campaigns and advocating for human rights. I am finalizing the last steps of my action plan to put it into practice as a climate change analyst at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. 

Persis : The young people of the delegate program are already mobilizing. We try to change things by developing the skills that the program offers us and spreading the knowledge we have received to our communities. We are also creating strategic alliances within our own youth organizations, as well as events that we can organize during the COP and COY. Once the conference is held, some things end, but many others begin. The real work begins when we return home and try to implement or mobilize the necessary resources to move forward.

What changes have you observed in terms of youth participation in climate spaces in the last 2 years? 

Eusebio : Climate negotiations were something that only people in high-level government positions could access, those people who worked directly on climate change . I think it’s more democratic now in the sense that people are allowed to be part of the conversation because of the immediacy and urgency of the issue. There is more openness, because governments are more open and willing not only to include young people in delegations, but to listen to us locally and implement our consultations as part of their positions at the COP and subsidiary bodies. 

Persis : The changes have been very positive and young people participate much more. In the past, I think it was not so common to see delegations that included young people at such a high level. Now I see that governments recognize the importance of including young professionals in these processes. Diversity and inclusion are incredibly necessary for progress, and we can’t address these challenges with blanket solutions or statements – we have to include as many people as possible. 

What initiative would you like to launch in the Dominican Republic after COP 28? 

Eusebio : I would love to continue working with Operación COP because it is the program that allowed me to go to the COP in the first place, and I would also like to work in a national youth body that is dedicated to climate negotiations and consultations. I think it is something that has already been done, but very locally, and I think having representatives from different provinces can be powerful and lead to tangible results. For example, the organization RD Sostenible created the National Youth Consultation a few years ago, which it launched again this year.

Persis : I presented a project to the Youth for Climate challenge, which was a call to gather solutions to the climate crisis. My project is called “Increasing Disaster Risk Awareness through Strategic Training in Coastal Communities,” or IDRASTICC, and it focuses on helping basic schools in coastal communities know what to do in the event of a climate emergency. The idea is to bring together professionals from different areas, such as firefighters and nurses, who can advise young people on what to do in the event of an emergency. I wanted to do it because the information that is created and disseminated about how to act in the event of hurricanes, fires or any type of phenomenon is usually aimed at adults. Children are a vulnerable part of our communities, and if we do not give them the tools necessary to confront these inherent challenges that, unfortunately, are not going away anytime soon, they will not be able to do so effectively. Additionally, something that I have been discussing with other delegates from Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts and Nevis is the idea of ​​creating a fund so that young people can participate in these climate negotiations. Personally, I have been in the unfortunate situation of not being able to go to the COP because I have accreditation but no funding, or vice versa. We are trying to create some kind of common fund so that these situations do not continue to occur.


This story was published on Diario Libre with the support of the Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship, which is a joint venture between Climate Tracker and Open Society Foundations.

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Gabriela Taveras Ruiz

Gabriela Taveras Ruiz

Gabriela is a young professional who is skilled in advocacy, research and climate change. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Tropical Forest Landscapes from Yale University, a Master of Arts in Development Studies (majoring in the Environment, Resources and Sustainability) from the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, and a Bachelor of Science in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University. She grew up in the Dominican Republic and has worked for institutions such as the United Nations, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the U.S State Department.

See more stories

Follow us on social media

Recent stories

Stay up to date on the latest climate news and opportunities in the Caribbean!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Caribbean Climate
Justice Brief

Categories and tags