gathered children and adolescents from 16 countries in Europe and Central Asia who
worked on recommendations to world leaders on bringing children to the
forefront of climate action.
Between 20-22 November 2022, in Ankara, the Ministry of Family and Social Services and UNICEF organised the National Children's Forum centred on the themes of climate change and youth engagement.
This was the 23rd meeting in an annual series of gatherings where representatives of the government, provincial child rights committees, NGOs, children, and adolescents can discuss and highlight the challenges they face, address child rights issues, and work together to develop a way forward.
The event was accompanied by a media campaign with messages from prominent figures from Turkish cinema, sport, and music. At the same time, the most iconic Istanbul buildings were illuminated in blue to raise awareness of World Children's Day, falling on 20 November.
On the first day of the Forum, participants had the opportunity to learn more about the Turkish model of cooperation in upholding children's rights established in 2000. In this framework, the work is carried out in Provincial Child Rights Committees consulted by Child Advisory Board. In the following presentation, Maria Osbeck, UNICEF Regional Adviser, provided a regional overview of children's rights and UNICEF’s activities. Subsequently, UNICEF's Adolescent Development Specialist, Nilgün Çavuşoğlu focused on the issue of involving children in the implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan. The plenary part was followed by discussions. During these, participants were given the floor to share their country experiences on implementing children’s rights and adolescents’ involvement in the fight against climate change. The young delegates also shared how their collaboration with UNICEF began and described the topics they worked on during their journey with UNICEF.
Sofia, the U-Report Ambassador who is collaborating with UNICEF Italy in many projects, also took part in the National Children’s Forum in Turkey. Here is what was her motivation to go to Ankara:
‘I decided to participate in the National Children’s Forum because it was a great opportunity for me to learn, share what I know, communicate with people from other countries, and – ultimately – to grow.’ – Sofia
The second day of the Forum featured group work by children and adolescents from 16 countries in Europe and Central Asia divided into smaller groups. Under the theme 'Design the Future Together', they discussed how to develop a regional climate action to act together and sensitise their peers, parents, and other adults on climate change. Moreover, the group discussion included topics such as the pollution, global warming, fast fashion, impact of climate change on children's rights and migration. Following the presentation of each group's work, young people collaborated and prepared a joint Call for Action.
‘This experience changed my point of view because I realized how important is what we, young people, can do, when we meet together and how our voices matter. Learning and collaborating on the topics such as climate change is crucial for our future.’
During the last day of the Forum, the children had the opportunity to present their collaborative call in the Presidential Complex before Emine Erdoğan, Derya Yanık – Minister of Family and Social Services, and Regina de Dominicis – UNICEF Representative to Türkiye. The young delegates urged leaders to collaborate with youth and support children’s involvement in local, national, and international climate action. To increase their involvement and engagement within the region, the adolescents present also founded a Regional Adolescent Climate Action Network to share experiences, learn from one another, and improve international collaboration.
It is noteworthy that after the Forum, on 23 November, the Guidance and Inspection Strategies for Child Rights and Business Principles Conference was held. It brought together over 100 experts and practitioners to debate ways to address child rights, strengthen family-friendly policies, and eliminate child labour in Turkey.