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13th UNESCO Youth Forum

Last week, Mahmoud Hashoush, former coordinator of the Youth Action and Research Project at the Minett UNESCO Biosphere, represented the Luxembourg delegation at the 13th edition of the UNESCO Youth Forum, which took place in Paris from 13 to 15 November and focused on the social impact of climate change.

Nominated by the Luxembourg National Commission for UNESCO, Mahmoud Hashoush is a young Lebanese researcher. He is passionate about studying the links between environmental, animal and human health. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in environmental epidemiology at the University of Montpellier, focusing on the impact of environmental pollution related to extractive activities on stillbirths in Ecuador.

Mahmoud was enthusiastic about the conference and participated not only in the active discussions, but also in the drafting and finalisation of the conference recommendations.

During the special session for youth ministers and youth forum participants, Mahmoud questioned the climate change policies being put in place by governments. He commented: “Although global warming is a global crisis, its effects are not felt equally around the world, highlighting the importance of the concept of climate justice. Similarly, despite the very optimistic and idealistic policies that many countries have onshore (in the European Union for example), some companies still benefit from the presence of more lenient policies offshore”. Mahmoud asked, “How do ministers and governments ensure climate justice when it comes to onshore versus offshore policies?”

In the process of drafting and finalising the recommendations for the 42nd General Conference of UNESCO, Mahmoud Hashoush highlighted the role that sport and recreation can play. For him, the latter could serve as tools not only for climate action, but also for peace-building in troubled regions and contexts. The delegate was particularly inspired by the journey of Maya Gabeira, UNESCO’s Champion for the Ocean and Youth, and the way she uses surfing and sport for climate activism and action.

During the closing session, Mahmoud summarised the ways in which UNESCO and [decision-makers] can support youth, in response to a question from the Head of UNESCO’s Youth Section, Souria Saad-Zoi, through the following three points:

1) supporting opportunities for young people in various private and also public institutions, by creating internships, jobs, volunteer quotas,

2) stressing the importance of monitoring and evaluation of existing and future youth projects and engagements to ensure that these actions are not only present but also effective, and finally

3) and in light of the session with the ministers, calling on leaders and decision-makers to listen (really listen and not just hear) what the youth have to say.