THE Scottish Government will fund a COP26 Youth Conference after the UK Government decided not to, the First Minister has revealed.

Nicola Sturgeon told delegates at the virtual SNP party conference that some of the “strongest voices” pushing for global action on climate change are children and young people.

The First Minister told how one of the “most important events” in the run up to COP26 is the Conference of Youth, where young people from 140 countries across the world come together to “set out their asks of world leaders”.

However, for this summit, the First Minister said that the UK Government has “decided not to fund it”, but that the Scottish Government will instead with £300,000 of funding.

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She told delegates: “As we approach COP26 some of the strongest voices pushing for urgent global action are those of children and young people.

“They are speaking up to fight for their future. Their commitment is inspiring.

“One of the most important events in the run up to any COP summit is what is called the Conference of Youth.

“It is a coming together of young people from 140 countries around the world, specifically mandated by the UN to set out their asks of world leaders.

“The Conference of Youth, which is now 16 years old, has always been funded by the government of the UN member state hosting COP.

“Except this year."

The National:

Alok Sharma, former BEIS Minister, is the COP26 President on behalf of the UK

The Conference of Youth comes together to produce the Statement of Youth – which is presented on behalf of young people at each COP, setting out their hopes and expectations for climate negotiations.

The First Minister continued: “Now I don’t know why the UK Government has decided not to fund it - and it doesn’t really matter - but I do know that we cannot allow the world’s children and young people to be silenced in Glasgow on an issue so vital to their future.

“So I can confirm that the Scottish Government has decided to fund the Conference of Youth to meet for four days in Glasgow in the run up to COP.

“Young people from Scotland will be invited to participate, and they will join with young people from across the globe to present their demands to the world’s leaders in the opening weekend of COP.”

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The event will run from 28-31 October in Glasgow, funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by YOUNGO - the youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Heeta Lakhani, YOUNGO Focal Point (Global South) and Marie-Claire Graf YOUNGO Focal Point (Global North) said: "The support of the Scottish Government is proof of legitimate youth inclusion and participatory governance in the lead up to the 26th UN Climate Conference.

"The official UN Climate Change Youth Constituency, YOUNGO, and the young climate advocates globally welcome this partnership not only to deliver COY16 and our presence in COP, but also as a sign that we are heard and involved.

The National:

The First Minister said some of the 'strongest voices' pushing for global action on climate change were young people.

"The commitment and backing of the Scottish Government will surely be part of the climate movement's history.

"In these challenging times, it is important that we work on shared goals together. Let’s unify for change!"

Five young people from Scotland will be selected to represent the country as delegates and contribute to the statement. 

Lily Henderson, from Fridays For Future Scotland, said she was "disappointed" the UK Government didn't provide funding. 

Henderson, 16, from Inverness, said: "As the strikers are a supporting organisation of COY16, we are of course very grateful for the money to enable the conference to run.

"However, we are really disappointed that it has fallen onto the Scottish Government to fund it rather than the UK Government.

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"They are the hosts of COP26, and they continue to insist that it will be the 'most inclusive COP ever', but by refusing to fund youth participation they're only proving that it will be one of the most excluding COPs.

"Ensuring we can take part in decisions that will determine our future is the bare minimum."

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The UK COP26 Presidency is delighted to endorse the 16th UN Conference of Youth (COY16) and has been working closely with the COY16 organisers. 

"In line with previous COP Presidencies we are working closely with organisers to ensure the conference of youth supports ambitious climate action.

"This includes; funding to help with organising costs, advising on covid secure planning, using our vast diplomatic network to support their youth members across the world, agreeing a visa process with the Home Office for COY16 delegates, and promoting COY16 as a precursor youth event to COP26 across our communications channels."

We previously told how climate change took centre stage at Saturday's meeting of the SNP conference.

Delegates backed resolutions on securing a legacy through COP26, backed recommendations from the Climate Assembly report released in June and condemned the UK Government for removing two “climate asks” from the text of the Australian trade deal.