Nicola Sturgeon confirms Scotland will fund UN youth talks after COP26 host UK declines to pay

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Scotland will step in to host a globally important youth conference, traditionally paid for by the host nation for the United Nations COP climate talks.

The Conference of Youth (COY) is the UN’s official event for young people and is now in its 16th year.

It is traditionally held directly before a COP (Conference of Parties) and is seen as an essential part of negotiations, helping young people to prepare for their participation in the summit.

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The First Minister confirmed the Scottish Government would fund the conference after it emerged that Westminster had opted not to, despite its role as host nation for this year’s COP26 meeting.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed Scotland will fund the United Nations Conference of Youth in the run-up to COP26, after it emerged that the UK would not provide the money - a responsibility usually taken up by the host nation

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Speaking at the SNP conference on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said: “As we approach COP26 some of the strongest voices pushing for urgent global action are those of children and young people.

“They are speaking up to fight for their future. Their commitment is inspiring.

“One of the most important events in the run up to any COP summit is what is called the Conference of Youth.

“It is a coming together of young people from 140 countries around the world, specifically mandated by the UN to set out their asks of world leaders.

“The Conference of Youth, which is now 16 years old, has always been funded by the government of the UN member state hosting COP – except this year.

“Now I don’t know why the UK Government has decided not to fund it – and it doesn’t really matter – but I do know that we cannot allow the world’s children and young people to be silenced in Glasgow on an issue so vital to their future.

“So I can confirm the Scottish Government has decided to fund the Conference of Youth to meet for four days in Glasgow in the run up to COP.”

The COY will result in a Statement of Youth, presented at every COP, setting out their hopes and expectations for the discussions.

Five young people from Scotland will be selected to represent the country as delegates and contribute to the statement.

This event, which runs from October 28 to 31 in Glasgow, will be funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by YOUNGO – the youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Representatives from the UN said the support of the Scottish Government showed “proof of legitimate youth inclusion and participatory governance” and would “surely be part of the climate movement's history”.

COP26, which was delayed from 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is due to be staged in Glasgow from October 31 until November 12.

A UK Government spokesperson did not confirm the reason for not funding the UN youth talks, but said in a statement: "In line with previous COP presidencies, we are working closely with organisers to ensure the conference of youth supports ambitious climate action.

"This includes; funding to help with organising costs, advising on Covid secure planning, using our vast diplomatic network to support their youth members across the world, agreeing a visa process with the Home Office for COY16 delegates, and promoting COY16 as a precursor youth event to COP26 across our communications channels."

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