Peace Palace

World’s Youth for Climate Justice received Youth Carnegie Peace Prize

News item | 08-12-2023

On 7 December 2023, the international youth organization ‘World’s Youth for Climate Justice’ was awarded the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize at the Peace Palace. The global youth movement received the prize for its dedicated efforts in fighting climate change by means of international law and for advocating climate justice.

“The link between climate change and peace might not be the first one that comes to mind. However, it is a strong one. Consequences of climate change include an increase in extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, more frequent floods, wildfires and drought, that can lead to food insecurity, destruction of land and livelihood, and increased displacement – factors that foster conflict.” With this explanation, Quint van Velthoven and Marijn Vodegel from World’s Youth for Climate Justice opened their winner’s speech.

In the Great Hall of Justice, normally used as courtroom for the United Nations International Court of Justice, more than 120 students, diplomats and representatives of international organizations gathered to honor this global youth-led organization as winner of the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize.

Youth Carnegie Peace Prize
The Carnegie Foundation, owner and manager of the Peace Palace, and the Youth Peace Initiative award the Youth Carnegie Peace Prize every two years in order to garner best practices from young individuals or youth-led organizations and to put them in the spotlight. The prize recognizes the work of young peacebuilders and aims to encourage others to start their own projects.

Motivation Prize Committee
Applications for the prize were received from all over the world and the jury was impressed by the commitment of young peacebuilders. After reviewing all the video submissions, World’s Youth for Climate Justice was selected as the winner of the 2023 Youth Carnegie Peace Prize. The jury explains: “It is very impressive that this youth movement is advocating climate justice and fighting climate change by means of international law. They are a great example of how young people can cooperate internationally to make a difference. That the work of these young peacebuilders consists of well thought out actions and strategies based on international law is shown in their publications. Their Youth Climate Justice Handbook presents legal arguments to help parties make submissions to the ICJ and ensures that young people’s voices are taken into account during the hearings.”

World’s Youth for Climate Justice
World’s Youth for Climate Justice is the global sister organization of the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC), founded in 2019 by 27 law students, to raise awareness for the rising sea level and the threat to Pacific Islands like Vanuatu. The youth movement is known worldwide for promoting the request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding states’ obligations in respect of climate change. On 29 March 2023, the United Nations General Assembly adopted this historic resolution requesting an ICJ advisory opinion on climate justice.

Importance of global youth initiatives
Piet Hein Donner, president of the Carnegie Foundation – Peace Palace pointed out the importance of global youth initiatives: “This year the award of the Peace Prize takes place at a moment that not only days are darkening but the world outside seems to darken as well with war, violence, atrocities and the looming threat of more to come. The initiatives we are reviewing here, and innumerable similar initiatives around the world, are like many candles lit to chase away the impending darkness and as an expression of the spirit that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. They are also an expression of hope, hope for a coming dawn, as it is said: the night is darkest just before dawn.”

Spoken word by Zaïre Krieger
During the award ceremony, spoken word artist Zaïre Krieger combined international law, climate activism and youth participation in a piece she especially wrote for this occasion. Her performance ended with the verse: “If water is plenty, let a dam set energy in motion, to allow all seemingly tired drops to become an ocean. “

Closing remarks
Jan van Zanen, mayor of The Hague, the international city of peace and justice, concluded the ceremony by underlining how important it is for young people’s voices to be heard: “Especially on a topic directly related to the future of today’s young people and generations to come. Young people should be at the table, locally, nationally and internationally.”

The recording of the 2023 Youth Carnegie Peace Prize can be watched here:

The photo gallery is available here: