Open Government Partnership
I’m really, really happy – they said that they were going to do this, and they’re actually doing it!
We recently ran an event at COP26, in collaboration with the Open Government Partnership and hosted by the Nordic Pavilion, called ‘How Open Government principles can help deliver Climate Action’.
The aim was to highlight the value of applying Open Government principles of transparency, accountability and public involvement to support Climate Action, and to recognise the important and necessary contributions that the public can make to delivering Climate Action. Participants were invited to outline ambitions to meaningfully, transparently and accountably involve the public, and to identify practical steps to involve the public in delivering Climate Action, including how Open Government can help.
The event began with presentations from Ministers from Scotland, Finland and Lithuania, and Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change. This was followed by a panel discussion, with questions posed to the panellists by members of Scotland’s Climate Assembly (Andrew Muncaster and Susie Lilley) and members of the Children’s Parliament involved in Scotland’s Climate Assembly (Nadia and Tyler).
As 12 and 13 year olds, Nadia and Tyler were two of the youngest official observers at COP26. We were delighted to have them involved in our event, and we think they made excellent contributions to the discussion. On the train home, they recorded the following reflections on their experience at COP26 with Katie Reid, Children’s Parliament’s lead for the children’s participation in Scotland’s Climate Assembly.
Tyler: When we arrived at the COP26 blue zone, I was thinking ‘this is very busy!’. It was really surreal. At first, I thought there wouldn’t be a lot of people because of how hard it was for us to get passes to get into COP, but there were a lot of people there. This did make me happy as it showed how many other people are helping with the climate crisis.
Nadia: There were a lot of adults and quite a few young adults or young people. There weren’t many children at all. We only met one other group of children the same age to us – they were from Norway and were also helping out in the climate crisis and it was really nice to meet them.
Tyler: In the Blue Zone, there were these little allocations of space for the different countries. We were in the Nordic Pavilion and the WWF space for our events, but my favourite was the Japan space because in the back they had a display about wind energy which I thought was interesting.
Nadia: We went to the Action Zone where there was a humungous globe floating and spinning. It was really cool to see – it was so big and amazing. As Tyler said, it made me feel happy and hopeful because I saw how many people there actually were and that showed that people actually do want to help out. The only thing that made me feel bleh was that there weren’t many children, as that’s what we’re doing right now – we’re trying to speak up for children and get more children involved! I think children should be involved in COP26 and big events like it so people can hear new perspectives, new voices and new ideas from children.
Katie: How would you make COP26 more child-friendly?
Tyler: There was a lot of language that I could understand but if there were going to be more children there in the future, then they should use more simplistic words. They were using pretty long words.
Nadia: In the future if COP26 wants to involve children, you could have children’s spaces or area where there are fun events for children and child-friendly information on what adults are speaking about. That would be pretty cool.
Katie: At COP26, what did you get up to?
Nadia: This morning we went to a panel with four leaders – from Lithuania, Finland, Canada and Scotland. The leaders pretty much talked about what they’re doing to be open governments and then Tyler and I asked questions with the adult Assembly members – who we had just met for the first time in person! They were really nice.
Katie: What does Open Government mean?
Tyler: So Open Government is pretty much when people get to voice their ideas and opinions to the government.
Nadia: I really liked what Canada is doing because they’re doing a lot with young people – mainly young adults though. Then we went to a UNICEF event about how a climate crisis is also a children’s rights crisis because it’s affecting children in lots of places, children’s voices aren’t being heard, and it’s our future! I really liked hearing from the young climate activists. Saher was so passionate and inspiring.
Katie: Two big announcements were made by the Scottish Government today based on the Climate Assembly recommendations and the Members of Children’s Parliament’s calls to action – banning single use plastic and creating resource sharing libraries. How did this make you feel?
Nadia: Honestly, I’m really, really happy because it shows that the adults promised, well said, that they were going to do this, and they’re actually doing it! It makes me really happy that our voices were included and they’re actually doing things.
Katie: What do you hope happens next?
Tyler: What I hope happens next is that in December, we’re going to be getting told what the Scottish Government are going to do with our calls to action so I really hope that most of the really important ones that we consistently talk about actually happen.
Nadia: I think children should be involved more in future COPs because I think a lot of adults will be interested in it and will realise that we do care and since it is our future, that we really just want what’s best. I also want to keep chatting to Lorna Slater [our MSP whom the children met during The Moment on the 29th October 2021] to know what they’re doing to take forward our calls to action.
Tyler: Yes, Children’s Parliament has given me a lot of ways to help with the climate crisis and way to voice my opinion.
Nadia: Being in the Children’s Parliament and Climate Assembly has opened up lots of new perspectives for me because I didn’t really know about climate change before and I’ve learned so much. I think other people, adults, also know that, because we’re doing this in the Children’s Parliament, children do care about climate change.
For more information about the children’s participation in Scotland’s Climate Assembly and COP26 go to Children’s Parliament Climate Change Makers or contact: Katie Reid, Children’s Voices Programme Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can watch a video of the event on We Don’t Have Time’s YouTube.
The panellists were:
- Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, Mr Patrick Harvie (Scotland)
- Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Ms Krista Mikkonen (Finland)
- Vice-Minister of Environment, Ms Gintarė Krušnienė (Lithuania)
- Canadian Ambassador for Climate Change, Ms Patricia Fuller
Yamide Dagnet Director, Climate Negotiations at World Resources Institute (WRI) facilitated the discussion.