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In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Lebanese Ministry of Environment, the Italian Embassy in Beirut hosted today at the embassy premises in Baabda a workshop on the “role of young advocates in climate justice, knowledge and action”. The aim of the workshop is to empower Lebanon’s youth and provide them with the tools to get their voices heard ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) taking place in the UAE in November 2023.

The event gathered around 40 Lebanese young climate change experts, activists, and students. Ms. Ryme Assaad, founder of the NGO “Sustain the World”, introduced the I.ACT Global Program, a training program offered by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) thanks to a grant provided by the Italian Government. I.ACT is an “action for climate toolkit”, an interactive learning platform with techniques and information to strengthen climate advocacy. Modules range from in-depth analysis of climate and energy trends to strategies to reach just and inclusive transitions and increase reliance on renewables.

For the occasion, Ambassador Bombardiere stated that “Climate change is already a dire reality worldwide. Countries in the Mediterranean area, a hotspot of global warming, are particularly exposed to extreme weather events, growing desertification, and a reduction in agricultural outputs. The consequences of inaction today will affect above all the generations of tomorrow and, in this spirit, Italy believes that youth-led initiatives are key in ensuring that inclusive and sustainable solutions to climate adaptation and emissions reduction are found”.

In recent decades, Lebanon was exposed to the fastest warming of its population-weighted temperature with 0.49°C per decade, which combined with changes in precipitation patterns, led to a reduction in GDP per capita of approximatively 5% between 2000-2019 in economic losses.

“Together, we can harness the power, knowledge, and innovation of our youth, while also recognizing the responsibility of the older generation in addressing climate change. It is crucial that political leaders work hand in hand with youth, civil society, and the private sector to design an economic model that is sustainable and climate proof. This is the only way to preserve the beauty and the potential of Lebanon for future generations” stated Ms. Melanie Hauenstein, UNDP Resident Representative.

“Lebanon’s challenges are great, but so is its potential, which is why the ministry has made youth inclusion in the delegation a priority in the past two years. For COP28, 34% is youth, including two young technical negotiators that will have a seat at the table and negotiate on behalf of Lebanon. By ensuring the participation of youth in the delegation, we tap into a wellspring of enthusiasm that can drive the transformative changes we need and ensure that the priorities of young Lebanese advocates are reflected on the international climate stage” stated the Minister of Environment H.E. Nasser Yassin regarding the importance of youth involvement at the policy level.

Ms. Ryme Assaad was selected together with other young leaders from all over the world for the first phase of the program, whose goal was “training the trainers”. The event hosted at the Embassy inaugurates the second phase, where peer trainers can now disseminate the knowledge acquired with the I.ACT toolkit to other young leaders, promoting the empowerment of young generations, the real actors of change. The results of the workshop will be presented during the upcoming Youth4Climate flagship event that UNDP is organizing in Rome this coming October. The Youth4Climate initiative, which Italy launched in 2021 ahead of the COP26, is now a well-structured mechanism coordinated by UNDP, which provides young leaders with a formal opportunity to present concrete solutions to political leaders involved in climate negotiations.

For the past 15 years, UNDP has been working with the Government of Italy to mitigate the impact of climate change on Lebanon and to mainstream it in development plans and reforms. The collaboration spans over different sectors, such as contributing to the enhancement and improvement of nature reserves in Lebanon; improvement of solid waste management in Baalbeck and the operationalization of the Zahle Wastewater facility.