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Empowering youth voices in Central Asia: OSCE Summer School spurs engagement on climate change and security in mountain areas

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The summer school was organized by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) in collaboration with the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, the Tian-Shan High Mountain Scientific Center, the NGO Students of Kyrgyzstan for the Green Economy, and the Berlin-based think tank adelphi.

“At the OSCE, we pay more and more attention to the voices of young people. We take steps to integrate youth perspectives into security debates and to facilitate their involvement and contribution to enhancing security and stability,” said Igli Hasani, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities in his opening remarks for the summer school.

Drawing attention to climate-related challenges in the Central Asia region including the mountainous terrain and glaciers, Hasani referred to the 2021 OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on climate change and the important role of youth in tackling climate challenges. “Young people are the innovators, the agents of change and the driving force for a sustainable, climate-resilient and peaceful future,” he said.

The summer school programme encompassed lectures, interactive discussions, collaborative group work, and engaging field trips to the Kara-Batkak glacier. These experiences provided participants with insights into the impacts of climate change on mountain ecosystems and on livelihoods of the local communities that depend on these rich ecosystems.

Following on the first Regional Youth Conference on Climate Change, organized by the OSCE in October 2022 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the summer school fostered networking and exchange among young people across Central Asia on climate change issues and generated a set of proposals for youth-led action in areas such as climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation with a focus on mountain areas. 

The Central Asia Regional Youth Summer School on Climate Change and Security in Mountain Areas was organized within the framework of the OSCE project Strengthening responses to security risks from climate change in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia, which is implemented in partnership with adelphi and in close collaboration with OSCE Field Operations.

The project is funded by Andorra, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.