YEE Webinar Highlights | Youth Participation in Climate Litigation

What is climate change litigation and how can you get involved? On 28 May 2021, YEE held a webinar on youth participation in climate litigation, bringing together young people involved in legal actions or campaigns as a way to increase action to fight against the climate crisis. We discussed the role of youth in furthering climate and environmental protection through legal means more broadly – here are some highlights! 

Our first speaker, Lea Nesheim, the Deputy Chair of Nature and Youth in Norway was involved in the People vs Arctic Oil case in front of the Norwegian Supreme Court. She shared her experience of the case, some of the difficulties the group encountered, and how, despite the case not being successful at the Supreme Court, it nonetheless had a big impact. When they started with the case, they faced quite some public hostility, saying that “It is hard to be taken seriously, especially as a young person”. The Court did however take them seriously, which also led to the case contributing to the agenda-setting for the elections and brought significant international attention to the Arctic Oil issue. 

Jule Schnakenberg and Aoife Fleming, both active with World Youth for Climate Justice, spoke about the campaign to obtain an Advisory Opinion on human rights and climate change from the highest international court, the International Court of Justice in the Hague. An Advisory Opinion is a piece of non-binding but highly influential advice from the Court and can be requested by international organisations such as the United Nations General Assembly. It could be a great opportunity to obtain international law guidance on big questions of international environmental law. Jule said: “The ICJ has never spoken about climate change within its advisory opinions so there is no blueprint to follow” and that therefore “We have nothing to lose by pursuing this”. 

When discussing the involvement of young people in law and how we can overcome some of the difficulties, Aoife said that “As young people, we are really grappling with the big questions in international law”. Awareness-raising and capacity building and also breaking down more complicated legal issues in an understandable way seem to be key issues to empower more people to make use of the law as a way to demand more ambitious action on the climate and biodiversity crisis. 

Giving a voice to young people was also a point that came up throughout the discussion with Lea saying that “lawyers shouldn’t just tell us what to do, we have to be a part of it”, Jule making the point that “There is a very strong moral argument in young people holding their governments to account” and Aoife also saying that “In the end, the advisory opinion is not only about what happens at the court but about making the stories of the most vulnerable heard”. 

If you would like to hear more about their stories, the challenges, and opportunities of using the law to bring about necessary climate action, don´t forget to watch a full recording of the webinar here.

If you are interested in climate litigation feel free to drop us a line at

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