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Arnaud Gallois (Office for Environmental Programs): T: +613 8344 3314,
David Scott (Media Unit): T: +613 83440561 M: 0409024230 E:

Eight University of Melbourne students will be part of history this month as they take part in a global debate around the COP15 United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen.

The students, most from the Masters of Environment program, are part of the Debatewise Global Youth Panel, a forum of 1000 15 – 35 year olds from 140 countries who will highlight the pros and cons of the conference and its outcomes via Google Wave between December 7 and 18.

Australian Country Coordinator for the GYP and Associate Director (Environmental Programs) at the University of Melbourne, Arnaud Gallois, says it’s a great opportunity for young people to participate in meaningful discussions and debates about one of the biggest issues of our time.

“For young Australians to be a part of this is empowering, it’s an excellent learning opportunity for all of us, and potentially a first taste of a new, truly global and participatory democratic process,” he says.

“The panel is motivated, not by global economic and politics, but by real fears and concerns about how climate change is affecting their lives and futures. Their debate will represent a unique perspective on what the Danish Government describes as ‘The Crucial Conference – the last chance to reach an agreement that can be approved and ratified in time to come into force when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.’

“It will be a truly global effort, as the Panel covers just about every ethnic and social group, and consists of a mix including those who have registered out of self-motivated concern, and invited participants who are already active on climate change issues. The debate will also give voice to a vital age group in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there was already a sense of optimism from the panel that the COP15 conference will provide answers to the climate challenge: 60 per cent of panelists thought that Copenhagen would be a ‘success’.

“We hope the Panel can provide a measure of how young people around the world are thinking about issues related to, and events occurring at, the conference.”

The GYP can be followed at: http://gyp.debatewise.org/