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Young Omani climate activists lead way to global action

4YC meeting in progresss
4YC meeting in progresss

The Sultanate of Oman was honoured to be represented by two young Omanis, Turki Al Risi and Noor Al Hamdan, at the Youth4Climate in Milan, Italy.

The event convened 400 youth climate leaders from 186 countries, two each from nearly every signatory to the Paris Agreement. The primary objective was to adopt a collective declaration to be presented to ministers attending Pre-COP26 in Milan and delivered by Italy to COP26.

Both Noor and Turki were selected from around 8,700 applicants after an intensive application screening process. This was followed by about nine months of remote collaboration to develop a zero draft document with recommendations across four thematic areas of climate action.

Their applications focused on the demonstrated ability of the applicants towards critical thinking and problem solving on topics related to climate change and sustainable development, and innovative initiatives to spread awareness on climate change.

The delegates met with over 50 ministers to lobby and convey ambitions for urgent action rooted in social justice ahead of COP26.

Turki al Risi is in the construction industry as a Quantity Surveyor while Noor Al Hamdan is an Energy Recovery Specialist at Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (be’ah).

Turki was selected to work on Energy Transition and Green Jobs under the theme of Sustainable Recovery after a thorough process and received training from UNDP prior to the event. Several capacity building sessions were held before in order to enrich the knowledge and involvement level of the participants, as well as familiarise them with the four main working groups and help them provide their inputs early on towards drafting the zero draft document.

Pre-COP26 gave both of the youngsters an opportunity to be included in the climate change negotiation with policymakers.

Energy transition means the future according to Turki. He says “We are witnessing many projects around the Sultanate of Oman sustaining this sector, talking of large wind and solar farms and green hydrogen. I feel we need to educate the public more about green hydrogen and how it works. Raising awareness is the main reason behind my interest in sustainability and climate change.”

His greatest takeaway from the summit besides developing the manifesto which was used in the negotiation of COP26 was meeting many like-minded young individuals and learning from their thoughts along with his ideas. As many climate justice activists from all over the world like Vanessa Nakate and Greta Thunberg were present as well as many youngsters from the Arab and Middle Eastern region.

He is still in touch with and collaborating on existing projects that are going to see the light soon. He also had the chance to understand the foreign process of such a summit as well as meeting with high-level negotiators on the event.

Noor Al Hamdan was hoping she could make it to Glasgow which was the result of the COP26 negotiations which made important progress in many aspects.

Turki says “fossil fuel companies were heavily represented as well as many countries where they tried to slow down the progress of achieving the net-zero targets by 2030. Although loss and damage was one of the main topics discussed at COP26, it was not covered enough as developed countries were training to push back this topic to the background instead of supporting affected countries. The Middle East will be the focus at the upcoming COP27 and CCP28 to be hosted by Egypt and UAE respectively.”

Turki explains further that energy transition is a must, putting strategies and early or balanced investment on clean energy at the front of the world as the demand for clean energy increases each day.

“It is also important to put people and community at the core of these strategies. I hope we see more collaboration between our countries to achieve greater goals serving the whole area,” Turki adds.

Representing the Sultanate of Oman, what is the sustainability message to the youth and how do they prefer to make a difference?

Turki summarises their work towards energy transition and green jobs working group. They call for an urgent, holistic, diversified and inclusive energy transition by 2030 that prioritises energy efficiency and sustainable energy, keeping +1.5 goal within reach to ensure a transition with decent jobs, providing adequate support for affected and vulnerable communities.

While Noor is currently organising youth delegates from the MENA region to create their own unified movement toward climate change and working towards setting up goals and holding weekly meetings. She also is in contact with Turki about the next steps needed to spread the word from the Y4C event and looking out for more climate activists who can join them.

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