My message to world leaders on climate action

Generation17 young leader reflects on her experience at COP28

December 17, 2023
Nora poses with other young leaders during a training session

Nora poses with other young leaders during a training session For Generation17 young leader Nora Altwaijri, COP28 was more than just a conference. It was a transformative chapter in her journey as a climate action champion.

Photo: Samsung

The climate crisis is a siren call demanding urgent action, and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) represents a pivotal front in this battle. As a young leader from a youthful population, with Saudi Arabia boasting 67 percent of its population under 35, I attended COP28 in Dubai. This experience as a Generation17 young leader was more than an opportunity; it was a mission to represent and empower youth voices demanding climate justice, demanding climate action from around the world.

Attending the Conference for the first time was an exciting blend of responsibility and opportunity. Within this global arena, my role as a Generation17 young leader allowed me to effectively engage in critical conversations, on different platforms, about our planet's future and bring a fresh, youth-led perspective to these global discussions.

My engagement at COP28 was very enriching. Alongside participating in important discussions, I brought to the table my involvement in impactful youth initiatives like the Muatalaf programme. This programme is a beacon of youth empowerment, encouraging young leaders to create purpose-driven communities and drive sustainable change. It’s a testament to what young people can achieve when given the right tools and opportunities – from marketing and finance to leadership and sustainability. The programme has created 12 vibrant communities driven by passionate young minds dedicating hundreds of hours to making a difference.

Nora poses with COP28 event panelists

Generation17 young leader Nora Altwaijri moderated a discussion on youth entrepreneurship in climate tech during Youth Day at COP28. Samsung MENA Chief Marketing Officer Omar Saheb and UNDP Egypt Resident Representative Alessandro Fracassetti served as panaliests.

Photo: Samsung Newsroom

At COP28, a significant moment for me was moderating a panel discussion between UNDP and Samsung Electronics. This opportunity not only allowed me to facilitate a vital conversation about climate technology but also to be part of the ACT28 AI for Climate Hackathon announcement. This initiative marked a concrete step towards mobilizing young tech enthusiasts to use their skills in tackling climate challenges. The hackathon, targeting participants from the MENA region, emphasized the need for innovative solutions in three of the Sustainable Development Goals: Climate Action, Life below Water, and Life on Land.

Graphic describing the UNDP-Samsung event at COP28

Image: UNDP SDG AI Lab

The insights I gained at COP28 were eye-opening. 

  • First, the power of collaboration across nations, sectors and ages is undeniable. When we pool our resources and ideas, the possibilities for innovative solutions to climate change are boundless.
  • Second, inclusive decision-making is vital. The fresh perspectives and urgency that young people bring to the table are crucial in crafting effective and long-lasting climate policies.
  • Lastly, the role of technology in climate action cannot be overstated. Tools like AI can transform technological wonders into powerful instruments in our collective quest for a sustainable future.
Nora at COP28

'An exciting blend of responsibility and opportunity': At COP28, Generation17 young leader Nora Altwaijri sought to amplify youth demands for climate justice.

Photo: Samsung Newsroom

My message to world leaders and policymakers is simple and straightforward: involving youth in climate dialogues isn't just beneficial; it's essential!  Youth worldwide are not only calling for change but they are also bringing in innovative solutions and strong determination that are crucial for tackling the climate crisis. Their active involvement is vital in creating useful strategies that work and connect with different generations.

 Reflecting on my experience at COP28, I see it as more than just a conference; it was a transformative chapter in my journey. It reinforced my dedication to climate advocacy and solidified my belief in the critical role of global youth participation in climate governance. As Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, emphasized, this conference was about forging a legacy for all youth – a legacy that I am honoured to be part of and eager to help shape and advance into the future.