Young people demand urgent climate action ahead of the UN Youth Climate Summit. The United Nations has long recognized that the imagination, ideals and energy of young people are vital for the continuing development of the societies in which they live. Photo: DESA
Youth in Action
Climate change has increased levels of uncertainty about our future. As its impacts intensify over time, one thing has become certain: We will leave the Earth to today’s children and young people, and to future generations.
The world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 to 24 — the largest generation of youth in history. Young people are increasingly aware of the challenges and risks presented by the climate crisis and of the opportunity to achieve sustainable development brought by a solution to climate change.
Young people’s unprecedented mobilization around the world shows the massive power they possess to hold decision-makers accountable. Their message is clear: the older generation has failed, and it is the young who will pay in full — with their very futures.
Young people are not only victims of climate change. They are also valuable contributors to climate action. They are agents of change, entrepreneurs and innovators. Whether through education, science or technology, young people are scaling up their efforts and using their skills to accelerate climate action.
My generation has largely failed until now to preserve both justice in the world and to preserve the planet. It is your generation that must make us be accountable to make sure that we don't betray the future of humankind. — United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres
Absent an urgent, coordinated international intervention on heavy debt burdens, many countries may “default” on national climate action plans. Youth Advisory Group member Vlad Kaim argues that debt swaps can unleash resources for climate as well as green jobs for young people concerned about economic fallout from the pandemic.
Meet Paloma Costa. This Brazilian climate activist, lawyer, and member of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change is gently shaking the world with her passion for climate justice.
Climate activist and youth advisor to the UN Secretary-General Archana Soreng belongs to an indigenous community in India. She takes inspiration from her grandfather, a pioneer of community-led forest protection, and her father, an indigenous health practitioner, in her call for upholding the rights of indigenous peoples, and restoring the world’s relationship with nature. Read her remarks to the US Leadership Summit on Climate.
That was the message youth activist Nisreen Elsaim delivered to a recent high-level session of the UN Security Council on climate change. Describing how climate vulnerability feeds conflict, she welcomed a new political mission in her country, Sudan, that prioritizes climate change and youth participation.
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Youth Climate Action Summit 2019
Young leaders from around the world convened on 21 September 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to showcase climate solutions and engage with global leaders on the defining issue of our time.
The Youth Climate Action Summit brought youth climate champions together from more than 140 countries and territories to share their solutions on the global stage, and deliver a clear message to world leaders: we need to act now to address climate change. The event gave voice to the demands of young people for swifter action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.