The United Nations came to Cardiff on Friday when students from across Wales took part in MockCOP – Beyond Marrakesh, a mock United Nations conference on climate change. Students travelled from far and wide, including from Wrexham, Aberystwyth and Pembrokeshire to join the debate and represent countries such as Brazil, USA, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.
The conference, run annually by Size of Wales in partnership with Welsh Centre for International Affairs, gives young people an opportunity to discuss the issue of climate change from the perspective of world leaders. Topics discussed ranged from clean energy, protecting rainforests, disaster management and how to finance these.
“The conference encourages young people to be more engaged with climate change and political issues” said Janie Pridham, Education Officer at Size of Wales. “It also helps them develop understanding of other nations and cultures and to consider the responsibility of Wales, both locally and globally”
“The standard of debate was extremely high this year,” she continued “It was wonderful to see the students take on their roles in such a realistic way. Some delegates were quoting Trump and there was even a smear campaign between countries!”
The aim of the day was for delegates to agree an international resolution on the issue of climate change, similar to the UN climate change COP22 talks that were held in Marrakesh in November.
This year Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner, joined the event, acting as the secretary general and presiding over teams of 3 pupils representing 20 countries and organisations.
“The bright, engaged young people I met today not only understand the critical point we have reached in terms of tackling climate change but understand that it is they who will be experiencing the positive or negative impact of our actions today.” the Commissioner said.
“If we continue to give them a voice and an opportunity to influence, it gives me hope that there is a better future for everyone in Wales and that we will be a nation that makes a positive contribution to global well-being.”
Size of Wales is a unique initiative which is helping to protect an area of rainforest twice the size of Wales as part of a national response to climate change. MockCOP is a highlight in its education programme, which also offers free workshops and assemblies to schools across Wales.
The event was kindly sponsored by Jenny Rathbone AM.