From 6 to 18 November 2022, UN Volunteers are supporting the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Among these are nine UN Volunteers, predominantly youth and women, deployed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Their role? To lead a network of over 500 local youth volunteers servicing COP27, under the overall supervision of Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity.
COP27 represents the largest annual gathering on climate action. In particular, it aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen commitments to finance climate action in the Global South countries and ensure broad engagement towards a climate-resilient, carbon-neutral future.
The conference’s agenda includes several events which serve this purpose, such as introducing sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and biodiversity. These seek to make climate action relevant to everyday life and livelihoods, and help youth see themselves as leaders in climate action for the first time.
Nine UN Volunteers, including seven women, have been involved in COP27 preparations for months. Initially, they were trained as trainers, completing courses on the Sustainable Development Goals and leadership development modules.
Then, in September and October 2022, the UN Volunteers took part in assessing the skills of applicants keen to support the conference as volunteers. They then helped place the 500 successful youth in volunteer roles closely related to their interests and career aspirations. While training the youth volunteers for their assignments, UN Volunteers highlighted volunteering as a means of accelerating climate action.
Our team is helping to organize activities, supervising large teams of volunteers and providing logistics, training and technical support. Thus, they are helping make COP27 successful and inclusive, even as they are networking, exploring career paths and finding their purpose. --Heba Nossier, UNV Country Coordinator in Egypt
One UN Volunteer, Saif Ismail, is currently supporting the Ministry of Social Solidarity as a Volunteer Management Coordinator. He also helps manage social media and advocacy initiatives, with the aim of uniting people of all ages around a common cause.
I create communications campaigns and ensure we post daily on all social media platforms. I have also built a team of volunteers with passion and skills in the media field to assist with high quality production. -- UN Volunteer Saif Ismail, Volunteer Management Coordinator with UNDP, placed in Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity
The role of UN Volunteers in COP27 is part of a larger effort to strengthen the capacity of local teams and promote climate action year-round. There are currently several UN Volunteers deployed with UN partners in Cairo, whose roles include supporting climate action.
One such volunteer is Cherryn Shin (Republic of Korea), who serves as Programme Analyst with the UN Population Fund’s Arab States Regional Office in the areas of youth, peace and security. She recognizes the impact of climate change upon social protection mechanisms and the related inequalities which put the lives of youth and adolescents at risk. "In reality, their voices are rarely heard," Cherryn argues.
I volunteer for climate action to ensure the voices of youth are heard and they can participate in important decision-making processes. --Cherryn Shin, UN Volunteer Programme Analyst with UNFPA, Egypt
Together, these UN Volunteers facilitate the participation of UN agencies, ministries and non-governmental partners at COP27, including youth-led local organizations. They also raise awareness of intersectional issues such as gender equity and health, where the youth voice has taken centre stage.