Youth-Led Activities Take Centre Stage at Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023

The Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023 (APCW 2023), held from 13-17 November, showcased the vibrant participation of young people from across the region in events co-convened by the Youth Empowerment in Climate Action Platform (YECAP) and its partners.

November 23, 2023
Youth climate advocates at Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023

Youth climate advocates at Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023

Held in Malaysia and hosted by the Government of Johor, APCW 2023 featured global partners such as the UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, UNFCCC, World Bank Group, and regional partners including UNESCAP, Asian Development Bank, IGES, and UNGCMYB. The event took place at Persada Johor International Convention Centre in Johor Bahru.

Regional Climate Weeks (RCWs) like APCW 2023 serve as collaborative platforms where governments and non-governmental organizations address various climate issues under one umbrella, inspiring individuals and organizations to contribute to global climate goals.

The week opened with thematic tracks covering energy and industry, cities, settlements, infrastructure and transport, land, ocean, food, and water, as well as societies, health, livelihoods, and economies. The youth-led sessions effectively captured these overarching themes through interactive and thought-provoking activities.

Youth for Capacity Building

Young people standing in a group

Gamifying systems change in the Youth4Networking session


YECAP and partners co-convened three Youth4Capacity sessions throughout APCW 2023. Youth4Capacity is an initiative co-led by UNFCCC and the Italian Ministry of Environment and Energy Security.

During "Youth4Capacity #1 - Youth participation in and skills development for a just transition" session in collaboration with COP28, UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, YOUNGO, Care About Climate, and UNESCAP, two publications were launched: the UNESCAP Policy Brief on Meaningful Youth Engagement in Climate Action in Asia and the Pacific, guiding regional institutions, and the YECAP Compendium of Best Practices on Youth and Climate Governance in Asia and the Pacific, sharing success country stories. The session referred to the 79th ESCAP Commission Session Youth Statement emphasizing meaningful partnerships with youth of all demographics.

"Youth4Capacity #2 - Empowering Youth in Asia-Pacific to Co-Create Climate Policy Solutions" was co-organized by ADB, UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, YOUNGO, UNU-IAS, UNGCMYB, and YECAP. It featured a Hot Seat discussion on creating an enabling environment to foster green jobs creation at scale.

Youth participants in a group discussion

Youth participants having a group discussion and visualizing their hope for a just climate future

Aizzat Nordin

"Youth4Capacity #3 - Human Library Workshop: Amplifying Community-Led Climate Action in Driving Change'' was co-convened by Seastainable Co., YOUNGO, Care About Climate, Sarawak Eco Warriors, and YECAP. Five young climate leaders acting as human books shared stories around deforestation, water storages, lack of access to schools and the need for safety and protection for human rights defenders in their respective countries. Their stories not only raised awareness about climate change but also prompted questions about the necessary support to address these pressing issues.

Youth Shaping Global Climate Discourse

Four young panelists on stage

Panelists sharing examples of whole society approach for a transformative change with young people in the driver’s seat

The session "Asian Youth's Impact on Global Climate Discourse and Policies," co-led by YOUNGO and UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, focused on the influential role of young climate leaders in shaping global climate policies. Amanullah Porag, South Asia Mobilization Coordinator at and YECAP Fellow underscored the need to understand the challenges faced by youth climate advocates.

Youth Working Towards a Sustainable Future

Youth speaker at an event

The YECAP Compendium of Best Practices on Youth and Climate Governance in Asia and the Pacific being explained

The side event "Sustainable Futures: Engaging and Empowering Youth in Climate Action," co-led by UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCAP, and RCC Bangkok, spotlighted youth-driven sustainability.

Hemavathi S Shekhar, a lawyer and youth climate justice advocate from India urged stakeholders to reimagine green job transformation for young people because not every youth has the privilege and opportunities to transition from their current roles to green jobs. She added that “climate action does not necessarily mean we must have a green job but rather how we can ensure that we are taking climate action no matter what jobs we have.

What's next?

Woman speaking on stage

Akiko Yamamoto, Regional Lead for Asia and the Pacific, Energy and Environment, UNDP delivering her remarks


Throughout the week, over 3,800 registered participants including young people and Indigenous youth engaged in discussions with policymakers and government counterparts, emphasizing the commitment to Just Transition and Meaningful Youth Engagement in Climate Governance and aligning with UNDP Climate Promise priorities.

Asia Pacific Climate Week 2023 closed on a high note with a strong emphasis on just transition as the key to ensuring long-term sustainability in systemic and transformative changes that we must go through to address the immense challenges of climate emergency.

The importance of locally led actions and decisions especially made by Indigenous peoples, marginalized communities, women and youth cannot be overemphasized to Leave No One Behind.

Akiko Yamamoto, Regional Lead for Asia and the Pacific, Energy and Environment, UNDP said, “the highlights from each thematic track presented by UNDP’s regional partners showed that APCW 2023 provided valuable opportunities for everyone to discuss various climate issues emphasizing the implications to the countries and people in this region.

The Asia Pacific Climate Week drew attention to the need for clarity, frameworks, and financing to transition to a new sustainable paradigm, moving beyond the status quo of siloed approaches to policy-making.

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