With the beginning of a new year and the ending of another COP, it is important to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and what we missed this year.

COP28, which ended two weeks ago was filled with criticism and packed with controversies. A COP in an Arab country was criticized for the lack of representation and presence of Arab youth in it. The images that were taken there only proved that further.

I met with Balkis Chaabane, a young Tunisian activist who attended COP28. It was her first COP, yet she had a lot to say especially about youth and Arab representation in COP 28, which was held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

My interview with her was interesting and eye-opening. It revealed things we all wanted to know and showed the perception of a young person towards such a global, and supposed to be influential and important, event.

I asked Balkis 3 questions:

  1. Attending COP28 as a young person, how was your experience overall?
  2. You mentioned the lack of youth representation in your answer, can you share more thoughts about that?
  3. What message would you give to young people who both attended COP28 in person and were unable to attend?

Telling you more about Balkis’s impressive bio should give you an insight into the answers I got and what to expect from this interview.

Balkis is a Peace and security practitioner and researcher, certified trainer & facilitator, youth engagement expert, and program design specialist with 5+ years of experience in the non-profit sector. Balkis has worked with several organizations around the world namely with the UN, IREX, USIP, World Youth Alliance, USAID, and many more. She has advanced experience in training on human rights and safe & effective activism, youth-inclusive peacebuilding, and online engagement programs with an innovative approach in the Middle East & Africa. Her research interests include youth-led peacebuilding, social cohesion & change, human rights & dignity, WPS & YPS, and youth leadership with a proven ability to mentor young people globally. Balkis is fluent in three languages and currently holds several positions working as a Program Manager with the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project, Young Global Fellow in Foreign Policy with the Geneva Center for Security Policy, Project Officer with the Migration Youth & Children Platform, and as a Youth Researcher with USAID in Tunisia. Balkis has recently obtained her MA in International Affairs from the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Lebanon. She is the recipient of two highly competitive & prestigious US State Department Scholarships: The Thomas Jefferson Undergraduate Scholarship Program, and the MEPI Tomorrow’s Leaders Graduate Program.

I will let you all watch this and listen to the words she said: