Young people from all over Wales gathered at the Senedd in Cardiff to debate climate change in front of Ministers, Assembly Members and representatives from the Future Generations Commissioner's Office.
"MockCOP" was an event modelled on the UN's Conference of the Parties (COP), where representatives from countries all over the world meet to negotiate resolutions to tackle climate change. Run jointly by Cardiff based climate change charity Size of Wales and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA), MockCOP was an interactive opportunity for young people aged 14-18 to learn about the UN, the annual climate change talks and develop their understanding of international relations by standing in the shoes of other nations and role playing those nations in the model conference.
Regional events have been held across Wales since June, which then culminated in this final event held at the Senedd in Cardiff.
As part of the programme, Size of Wales and WCIA were looking to develop and support young climate change champions across Wales.
Size of Wales Director Elspeth Jones said: "MockCOP develops young people’s skills, knowledge and confidence on the topic of climate change and encourages them to think about how climate change is affecting people now as well as future generations. This year we have been able to reach even more young people across Wales and support the new curriculum in developing ethical informed citizens with the kind support of the ScottishPower Foundation. Climate Change is a subject many students feel motivated to act upon, and we want to empower young people to feel that they can be part of the solution."
Eluned Morgan, Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, opened debate procedures on the 21st November: "MockCOP is a fantastic platform for young people to engage with the serious issue of climate change and consider their views from a global perspective. Young people need to be allowed to be creative, put in place their own ideas, develop and experiment with them. MockCOP provides this opportunity to young people to become more informed and engaged about the global challenges and gives them a great opportunity to develop debating and negotiating skills."
The expansion of the programme has been supported by the ScottishPower Foundation.
Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation, said: "It’s fantastic to see so many young people, who have been engaged with the wider Climate Change Champions project throughout Wales this year, come together at the MockCOP conference here in Cardiff. The ScottishPower Foundation aims to support talented young people who will be at the forefront of the next generation of experts tasked with developing new solutions to the challenge of climate change.
"It is so inspiring to see these young people being empowered to make their voices heard and being encouraged to share their great ideas for the future."
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs added: "Since we declared a climate emergency, earlier this year, young people from across Wales have been at the centre of our national conversation on what urgent action is required to address climate change.
"I was determined young people should be involved in our first ever Wales Climate Conference last month and MockCop will give them another opportunity to have their voices heard at the very highest level.
"I know from speaking with young people across Wales just how engaged and passionate they are about the future our planet. This event will ensure the momentum generated by the Climate Conference is maintained and will provide young people with valuable experience of debating and negotiating resolutions to tackle climate change and benefit future generations."
Notes to the Editor
The programme won the ScottishPower Foundation’s Education Partnership Award in September. MockCOP has also been shortlisted for the 2019 Sustainable Academy Award’s Sustainable Education or Training Award.
The aim of the conference is for delegates to agree an international resolution on the issue of climate change, similar to the UN CIimate Change COP talks, whilst playing the part of their country as authentically as possible. Through this conference young people are encouraged to be more engaged with climate change and international relations and consider the responsibility of Wales, both locally and globally. Groups of 3 students aged 14-18 years old from across Wales are each given a nation to represent. They research and prepare their position, then represent their allocated nation presenting their case, aiming to negotiate an agreement with the other nations.