International Citizen Service volunteer Josh Lewis is at Camp Climate standing up for young people during COP21 in Paris. Photo credit: Josh Lewis International Citizen Service volunteer Josh Lewis is at Camp Climate standing up for young people during COP21 in Paris.

Over the past fortnight, returned International Citizen Service (ICS) volunteers Josh Lewis and James Crawley have joined young people from YMCAs and youth organisations around the globe at Camp Climate as world leaders try to reach an agreement on tackling climate change. Josh from Swansea YMCA shares his experience and what he has learnt and how he plans to use his knowledge back home.

ICS volunteers James Crawley and Josh Lewis meet Bangladesh YMCA volunteer Sukhen during Camp Climate.

ICS volunteers James Crawley and Josh Lewis meet Bangladesh YMCA volunteer Sukhen during Camp Climate.

The Youth in Action for the Climate programme and Camp Climate have been an incredible opportunity to meet a huge number of people from all over the world who are dedicated to making the world a better place for us all.

It has been fantastic to hear about the different projects each person is involved in back in their own countries and exchange experiences and ideas. I have been truly inspired by the amount of young people I’ve met who are just as passionate as I am about standing up for young people, supporting them and giving them a voice.

I have been talking to people from Canada, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States and more; all involved with YMCAs in their countries. It has really highlighted to me the importance of the YMCA as a worldwide movement.

Camp Climate has given me a great opportunity to attend different events and workshops and hear different perspectives on the Sustainable Development Goals from people from all around the world. I attended a workshop in which we discussed what we, young people, are doing and what our YMCAs are doing around the world.

James and I were lucky enough to meet up with Sukhen from Bangladesh YMCA. Y Care International is currently working with Bangladesh YMCA to help young people and their families be better prepared for flooding; this is so important in the face of climate change as world weather patterns are changing and hazards such as cyclones and floods are expected to occur more frequently. Even in the UK flooding is the biggest threat that we face as a result of climate change – just this week the North West of England has suffered from heavy rains and flooding.

I feel like I’m going to be going back home with a huge amount of inspiration, fresh ideas and most importantly, new friends from all around the globe. Even though I don’t want my time in Paris to come to an end, I’m really looking forward to going home and sharing what I’ve learned about climate change, the environment and sustainability with the young people back in Wales, as well as my experience in Paris as a whole.