Investing in People and Learning to Foster a Climate Resilient and Green Transition

Youth Climate Dialogues

As youth become increasingly aware of the challenges and opportunities in transitioning to a low carbon growth, many are joining the global dialogue findidng solutions, getting involved and taking action. Young people between the ages of 14 and 18 are not only highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change but they are also tomorrow’s business leaders, decision makers and consumers.

The Youth Climate Dialogues (YCDs) were launched in the run-up to the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in December 2015, which was held in Paris, France. YCDs are a joint initiative of UN CC:Learn and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) which aims to provide a forum for youth both in Switzerland and UN CC: Learn partner countries to share their views on climate change. 

YCDs usually take the form of a debate and video-conference between schools in different parts of the world. During the event, students discuss how they perceive climate change, how it affects their lives, and what actions they consider they could implement. 

How to organize YCDs

To have an idea on how YCDs are organized, please watch this short trailer. For those interested in organizing and participating in YCDs, a guide has been developed to illustrate the most important steps in the process (available in French and English). The guide provides all details necessary for the four preparation phases: planning, student preparation, implementation, and follow-up.

YCD 1.   Kantonsschule am Burggraben (St. Gallen, Switzerland) – Lilongwe Girls Secondary School (Lilongwe, Malawi)

On the 9th November 2015, the first YCD took place between the Lilongwe Girls Secondary School in Malawi and the Kantonsschule am Burggraben Saint-Gallen in Switzerland. Students exchanged ideas and experiences on what climate change meant to them. The Lilongwe Girls Secondary School prepared interviews and photo-statements about how climate change is affecting them, while the St. Gallen students from Switzerland prepared pictures and videos including a weather forecast for 2050 showing what might happen to Switzerland’s snow and glaciers if nothing changes.

To have a brief overview of the dialogue, please watch a short video here.

A photo gallery from the event is also available here

Following the closed door event between the two schools, a recording of the experience was shared with a wider public audience including representatives from UNITAR, UN CC:Learn Malawi and the SDC.

On the 8th February 2016, the St. Gallen Kantonsschule am Burggraben students who participated in the 1st YCDs visited UNITAR in Geneva to learn more about climate change and sustainable development. They had the chance to better understand the history and role of UNITAR in the field of development cooperation, climate change and green development.  Read more about their visit here and find their photos here

On the Earth Day (22 April 2016), the St. Gallen Kantonsschule am Burggraben won an Eduki Foundation award under the category of “concrete projects”. The competition is organized by the Eduki Foundation in partnership with the Department of Education, Culture and Sports of Geneva, the Swiss Confederation and the Fondation pour Genève. The competition is aimed at inspiring students to "imagine the Switzerland of tomorrow" and develop real and implementable projects that can bring social, economic and environmental benefits in Switzerland and abroad.  he 2016 theme was the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than 1,500 students participated. As students were not able to attend the awarding ceremony, they prepared a video to show their appreciation to this occasion. 

Related Articles:

Ms. Shamiso Najira, UN CC:Learn Ambassador for Climate Change Learning of Malawi, Facilitates Youth Exchange on Climate Change

Climate Change: Theoretical Concept or Reality?

Engaging the Youth in Malawi in International Climate Change Discussions (UNDP) 

UN: CC Learn’s Youth Climate Dialogues Are Widening the Scope of Climate Change Education (United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination)    

Wettbewerb zur internationalen Zusammenarbeit 2015-2016 (EDUKI, in German)

YCD 2.  Gymnase de Burier (La Tour de Peilz, Switzerland) –  Centre Scolaire Privé Elim (Niamey, Niger) 

On the 18th November 2015, the second YCD took place between Gymnase de Burier in La-Tour-de-Peilz (Switzerland) and Centre Scolaire Privé Elim in Niamey (Niger). This was the first time that the dialogue was held in French. The students were in the age group 16-20.  The dialogue focused on how youth perceive climate change, how it affects their lives, and what actions they consider the most essential. The event was accompanied by a three-day photo exhibition organized by “La Fondation pour le development durable des regions de montagne” (FDDM), which illustrated the causes and consequences of climate change by the melting glaciers. 

The objectives of this YCD was:

  • Strengthen understanding among youth of the causes and effects of climate change in different locations around the world;
  • Facilitate a dialogue between youth in different countries on what climate change means for their personal lives;
  • Create momentum and public visibility for the issue of climate change in the run up to COP 21 in Paris, December 2015;
  • Provide visibility to what Switzerland is doing to support developing countries in promoting climate change education. 

The students participating in this event took one or two modules of the UN CC: Learn Introductory Course on Climate Change

As part of their preparation for the dialogue, some of the students from the Centre Scolaire Privé Elim in Niamey (Niger) went to take photos outside of their school. Some photos are available in the photo gallery. This event was organized as an open event with the presence of public audiences.   

YCD 3. Liceo cantonale di Lugano 1 (Lugano, Switzerland) – Gayaza High School (Kampala, Uganda)

On the 9th December 2015, exactly one month after the first YCDs, the third YCDs took place between the Liceo cantonale di Lugano 1 (Switzerland) and the Gayaza High School in Kampala (Uganda). The interactive video conference focused on students’ perceptions and experiences on climate change. Both groups asked many questions to each other regarding the effects of climate change. 

The students from Lugano answered these questions by sharing pictures and statistics on the effects of global warming on the Swiss Alps and highlighting the increasing impacts on endemic flora and fauna as well as the melting glaciers.  The Ugandan students discussed the effects of climate change on water, food security and health.  Both groups presented possible ways to adapt to these climate change effects. All the students highlighted the importance to act on the promotion of educational programs and awareness campaigns at a global level as well as take initiatives on energy saving and sustainable consumption practices at the individual level. 

As an activity, each student also wrote down something they love (e.g. penguins, mountains, food, rainbows), which could be affected by climate change.

To have a brief overview of the dialogue, please find a short video here. The students in this YCDs featured the blue hearts in their pictures, which were adopted from a project by the Klima Alianz

A photo gallery from the event is available here.

Related Articles:

3rd Youth Climate Dialogues between Uganda and Lugano Students

Youth Climate Dialogues (Liceo Lugano, in Italian)

Youth Climate Dialogue (WWF Switzerland, in Italian)

Wettbewerb zur internationalen Zusammenarbeit 2015-2016 (EDUKI, in German) 

Climate change in the classroom: from theoretical concept to reality (SDC) 

YCD 4. Youth Climate Dialogue Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Dominican Republic)

On 16th February 2016, 46 young people from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and the Dominican Republic shared their concerns about climate change. The project “Ampliando la Educación, el Entrenamiento y la Concienciación Pública en Cambio Climático en Países del Sistema de Integración Centroamericano (SICA)” (Broadening education, training and raising awareness on Climate Change of the Integration System of Central-America –SICA- Countries), is part of the YCD which is supported by the UN CC:Learn and the Swiss Development Corporation. An online dialogue session was organized to identify, analyze and document the concerns and ideas to face the challenges of climate change for young people in Central America.

This online session gathered a mix of youth from four SICA countries between the ages of 15 and 25. The summary is available here. A short video is also available here

  • Costa Rica – 12 University students
  • Guatemala – 10 Secondary school students
  • Dominican Republic – 6 Secondary school students
  • Panama – 18 Secondary school 

Please click here to find some photos from the event.

Related Article: 

Youth Climate Dialogues in Central America!

YCD 5.  Lycée International de Ferney-Voltaire (Ferney-Voltaire, France) – Trinity College Nabbingo (Kampala, Uganda)

For the first time, a Youth Climate Dialogue took place in a French school.  The dialogue involved the Lycée International de Ferney-Voltaire and the Trinity College Nabbingo (Uganda).

Due to the necessity to have reliable internet connection and high quality video teleconferencing equipment, the event was hosted at the UNITAR offices (Geneva) and FAO offices (Kampala)

The Lycée International Ferney-Voltaire is a French public secondary education school on the border with Geneva. The school benefits from its proximity to the town, home to many international organizations such as the UN, the ITU, the ILO, and the UNHCR among many others, making it ideal for international diversity.  The school has a Model United Nations (MUN) club which hosts a global scope conference annually with students from other schools and countries.  The MUN is an activity that encourages students to participate in international relations and diplomacy by simulating the United Nation and its debates.  The participants are part of the MUN club. 

The Trinity College Nabbingo is an all-girls boarding school in the village of Nabbingo, approximately 8kms from Kampala in Central Uganda.  The school has activities in agriculture, participates in the annual schools Farm Camp and is striving to make strides in sustaining food supply from the school farm. The school has a student population of about 1,500 students

In preparation for the dialogue, students from both schools have prepared materials which they used as a basis for their discussions.  In order for the students to have the opportunity to think about the subject without much influence from the scientific front, the brainstorming sessions were designed in a way to allow the students to reflect on their own personal experiences.  Projects prepared by the students include photo-stories, interviews and two videos:

  • Draw my life video which is a story about a girl, Julie who lives in Ferney-Voltaire. Julie shares how climate change is affecting her life.
  • Video featuring interviews about climate change with the general public. 

Some photos from the event are available in the photo gallery

Related Article:

Youth Climate Dialogues (YCDs) Go Beyond Swiss Borders

YCD 6.  Lycée International de Ferney-Voltaire (Ferney-Voltaire, France) – Sheder Refugee Camp primary and secondary schools (Sheder, Ethiopia)

The first Youth Climate Dialogue in Ethiopia took place on 12th April 2017.  The schools involved were the Model UN club students from the Lycée International de Ferney-Voltaire and students from the environmental club from the Sheder refugee camp primary and secondary schools in the Sheder refugee camp. 

The Sheder refugee camp is situated 55 km north-east of Jijiga, Ethiopia and 30 km from the Ethiopia – Somaliland border.  The camp is 2.6 km2 and has a population size of 10 827 – all from Somalia (south and central provinces of Somalia).  The students environmental clubs in the camp mobilizes students bring change and improve the school and camp environmental conditions.  Some of the activities carried out by the club include:  environmental awareness raising campaigns, planting trees, weekly camp clean-up, water saving, piloting street trees in all administrative zones in the camp, recycling. 

The two groups of students were hosted by UNITAR in Geneva and UNHCR Jijiga office. 

In preparation for the dialogue, students from both schools have prepared materials which they used as a basis for their discussions.  Projects prepared by the students include drawings, photos and videos

This dialogue was organized in partnership with UNHCR, UNESCO and the Ethiopian government Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA). 

Related Article:

Youth Climate Dialogues (YCDs) Leaving No One Behind

Future YCD Events

4 May 2017: Collège d’enseignement général d’Abomey-Calavi and Collège d’enseignement général la Plénitude de Cotonou (Coutonou, Benin) and Collège Anatole France de Tours (Tours, France). The event is organized in partnership with UNDP Benin, Meteo France, and the Benin Ministry of Environment.  

17 May 2017: Lycee Bogodogo and Ecole Le Petit Monde in Ouaga (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and the Lycee International de Ferney-Voltaire (Ferney-Voltaire, France). The event is organized in partnership with UNICEF.

Sept/Oct 2017 (date TBD) – French primary school and primary school in Ethiopia (schools to be confirmed).

Get involved

For all organizations and individuals interested in participating or supporting these events, kindly send an email to Please click here to find out more on how to organize YCDs. 

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