Dubai 2023 and Youth Representation in Climate Change

I want to share the story of how I became the first youth representative as part of the Guatemalan National Delegation that attended COP28 in Dubai in 2023.… A few months ago, I organized the first “Wind Summit” in Guatemala, powered by Planeteer Alliance and the United Nations Environment Programme. At the time, I didn’t think that this event would be the beginning of everything…


Cumbre de Jóvenes por el Planeta GT Fotografía por: Adriana López U-report

Cumbre de Jóvenes por el Planeta GT was an event powered by Planeteer Alliance linked with the Tide Turners Challenge by United Nations Environment Programme that convened Planeteers all over the world to change the course of plastic waste for a positive future of climate and a clean ocean to create the Wind Summit in their own countries, these are meetings of committed young people engaged with the creation of a positive future for the climate, addressing waste-related issues, in this case, plastic waste.

This year’s target was to identify the challenges related to plastic waste in the communities and create solutions to cope with them.

I couldn’t create this summit by myself; I needed strategic support and allies. I met the girls that helped me with this event at Movimiento Ecológico Estudiantil when I got coordination roles in different work teams. They are Adriana Rivera, Alejandra Pérez, and Melanie Diaz, three incredible and hardworking women whom I hold in high esteem. Without them, this summit wouldn’t have been possible. The creation of this event has taught us many lessons and satisfactions. Diverse organizations were with us during the summit:

  • SOA Guatemala
  • Rescue the Planet
  • Alianza Escazú Guatemala
  • Pequeño Gigante quienes ahora se hacen llamar Niñas sin fronteras
  • Unicef Guatemala
  • U-report Guatemala
  • ConéctaTe contigo, Tierra Orgánica
  • Movimiento Ecológico Estudiantil
Cumbre de Jóvenes por el Planeta GT photo by: Adriana López

This collaborative effort put me on the radar of the Climate Resilience Office UNICEF-Guatemala because I was responsible for creating the link between UNICEF and our organization. Over time, more opportunities and new realities would emerge for me.

Marcela Tornoé hosting the Youth Summit for the Planet event. Photo by: Adriana López U-report

AGENTES ECO facing Climate Change

Logos of Agentes ECO empowered by Unicef

During this time, I was a U-report delegate, a platform powered by UNICEF Guatemala that allows us to express opinions about different topics that matter to us and make them aware of them. I discovered this platform thanks to Movimiento Ecológico Estudiantil (MEE) and then I continued to develop as a delegate speaking on climate and environmental issues.

First meeting of Agentes ECO Photo by: UNICEF Guatemala collaborators

One day I was called to a meeting where they told me about this brand-new platform, that basically is a safe place for the training of young people interested in climate and environmental action at the national level, bringing them help to create their own projects in their communities and the purpose of this space is to represent the youth in the National Council on Climate Change (CNCC). Since October 2023 I was appointed leader of this platform, thanks to my work on environmental and climate issues, this gave more strength to my selection process to go to the COP28…


Introductory course "Towards COP28" at MINEX Guatemala Photography by: Marcela Tornoé

UNICEF was in charge of negotiating with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) so that I could attend talks and trainings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINEX) along with the national delegation. In these spaces, I learned more about the COP28 ecosystem and the nature of the United Nations Environmental Agreements. Among them: the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol. I believe it’s important for citizens to understand, and I plan to write columns delving deeper into these agreements. 

At one point, I was summoned to a meeting with my superiors and they told me, “Well Marce, you are going to the COP, are you sure you want to come?” I am sure they saw my impressed expression and I just nodded. I could not believe it finally happened; it was already sealed; I was going to the COP28 in Dubai.

Of course, before this, I had a couple of interviews where I talked about what I would do in this conference, since I am the first young woman to go to the COP28 and to be part of the national delegation of Guatemala.

But what exactly is the COP28?

The COP28 or United Nations Climate Change Conference is one of the most important climate and environmental conferences in the world because it is in this space where decisions are made at a global level in relation to climate change with different representatives worldwide, in this case “the parties”.

This conference was historic; the parties signed an agreement committing to “make a transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems”.

Significant achievements were made, such as supporting countries to strengthen their resilience to climate change, increasing climate finance, committing to strengthen collaboration between governments and key stakeholders, and seeking to promote participation and inclusiveness in the event.

1st day at COP28 Photo by Marcela Tornoé

During the COP28, I had some advocacy spaces where I could express the voice of Guatemalan youth. I was in spaces such as the talk “Indigenous Youth and a just transition to green jobs” by the MARN held in the Pavilion of Guatemala where I addressed the perspective of how children, adolescents, and youth are the most vulnerable sectors to the effects of climate change.

I also participated in the Refugees International talk “Local Leadership in Climate Mobility Decisions” where I was allowed to express the actions we are taking as youth in Guatemala on climate issues. I addressed the objectives of the platform that I lead, Eco Agents. And this put in perspective to different country representatives, the situation we live in Guatemala with respect to these issues.

UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean even invited me to collaborate in a talk at the Peru pavilion called “Meaningful participation of youth in the processes of climate policy formulation in Latin America and the Caribbean”. In this space, I shared my experience as a young leader who influences environmental and climate issues with respect to the formulation of climate policies, so I addressed my experience as a promoter of the Escazu Agreement in Guatemala and put into perspective the observers on how the reality of Guatemala is within the framework of the agreement. I even made a small reflection regarding the

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Las opiniones expresadas en este artículo son exclusivamente responsabilidad de su autor. Revista Telégrafo firme con su compromiso de promover el pensamiento crítico y libertad de expresión en la sociedad guatemalteca, brinda espacios abiertos, auténticos y sin filtros para que personas de distintos sectores de la sociedad puedan expresarse, sin embargo, la publicación de este artículo no supone que el medio valide su argumentación o la verdad de sus conclusiones.
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