A Young Tunisian's Climate Negotiation Journey at COP28

A Young Tunisian's

Climate Negotiation

Journey at COP28

By Malek Romdhane
14 / 03 / 2024
Malek Romdhane speaks at the Children and Youth Pavilion at COP28 in Dubai in 2024. Image credit: Malek Romdhane

Experience inside the COP Experience

Participating in the 28th Climate Negotiations (COP28), as a young negotiator deepened my understanding of the complexities and challenges inherent in international climate negotiations. Representing Tunisia and the voices of young people, I delved into the intricacies of the loss and damage negotiation process. Throughout the conference, I actively engaged in negotiations, closely following the outcomes, seizing the opportunity to discuss my views with program organizers, and gaining valuable insights from their experiences. Additionally, I attended side events as a speaker where I passionately advocated for the inclusion of young people in climate negotiations, emphasizing our vital role in the UNFCCC processes and the Conference of Parties, whether as negotiators, observers, or media representatives. Through these discussions, I underscored the importance of amplifying the voices of those most affected by climate-related disasters, ensuring their prioritization on the global stage.

Being part of the New Generation Fellowship

My involvement with the New Generation Program as a fellow provided invaluable opportunities to further engage with climate action and loss and damage issues while expanding my network within the global climate community. Participating in online workshops, capacity-building sessions, and dialogues at COP28, I gained insights into the processes of addressing loss and damage, policy formulation, and advocacy strategies. Moreover, the program facilitated meaningful exchanges with negotiators, experts, and my mentor, who offered mentorship and guidance on navigating the complexities of international climate negotiations. My mentor shared with me her experience of how she became an advisor for the African group and answered my endless questions about the process.

The New Generation Fellowship Program profoundly impacted me personally and professionally. It instilled a deep sense of responsibility and purpose, reaffirming my commitment to driving positive change in the fight against climate change. Interactions with fellow participants, organizers, and my mentor sparked a renewed sense of belonging, hope, and determination, underscoring the power of collective action and intergenerational collaboration in addressing the climate crisis. The program also offered us well-being sessions and established a dedicated space amidst the hustle of COP and our packed schedules. This space allowed us to share our concerns openly, a safe environment for seeking support and guidance on navigating the conference and surpassing our daily challenges to make the utmost of the conference. It also equipped me with newfound knowledge and networks. I am empowered to continue advocating for climate justice and sustainability beyond COP28, actively championing climate action in my region.

In the midst of these experiences, a stark reality emerged – if we're not at the negotiation table, decisions affecting us will be made without our input. Even when we push for decisions that represent the interests of young people, women, and the next generation, we often face roadblocks. But, at least my country is on the right side of history, fighting for our needs and demanding climate justice and finance to make our climate actions a reality. It might be challenging, but I was there among other youth to raise our voices for justice, hoping our future is considered. 

Malek Romdhane is a young climate negotiator and Sustainability Consultant from Tunisia with a solid academic background. She holds a Master's in Sustainability Management and Innovation from the University of Westminster. Additionally, Malek is a graduate of the 60th Graduate Study Program (GSP60) of the United Nations office in Geneva, where she furthered her expertise in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She is passionate about advocating for an environmentally responsible and socially equitable future. Malek's guiding principle in life is encapsulated in her motto: "My dream is to live in a world where human rights and climate justice are not mere slogans." This reflects her dedication to a vision of a world where fundamental rights are respected and environmental considerations are integrated into the fabric of daily life.