This weekend was a monumental moment for young people, as 1000+ youth gathered for the first and biggest gathering in the United Nations dedicated for young people and their #ClimateAction.
But yesterday was not only about gathering, but it was also about making sure that youth’s voices are not only heard but also taken into account by world and industry leaders. It was about showing how ready young people are to engage with the world through their solutions and climate commitment.
From panel discussions, dialogues, interventions, to presentations. Young people were sharing their take on the global climate emergency that we are all facing, and here are youth’s key messages:
- We cannot treat the Climate Crisis like an issue that needs debate. It is not an opinion. It is a fact. In fact, it is an emergency that needs urgent action.
- Climate and Environmental Justice are matters of Human Rights. The poor, marginalized communities suffering from the adverse impacts of climate change; especially in the Sahel, Pacific and Caribbean Islands are not the ones responsible for the massive carbon emissions that is causing global warming.
- 71% of the greenhouse gas emissions today are caused by 100 companies. These companies and corporations need to be held accountable for their actions.
- In areas experiencing devastating impacts of climate change, woman and girls continue to be disproportionately affected, challenging their access to basic human rights, social services and safety and security.
- Freedom of expression of young people needs to be protected and upheld. Not in every country it is safe or conducive to protest, strike or demonstrate. Many young activists face retaliation, violence and arbitrary arrest for their activism. The need to create safe spaces is extremely important to protect young people’s freedom of expression.
- There is an unfair power balance between the youth climate organizations and donors. It is difficult and sometimes impossible for youth organizations to access funding due to structural barriers. Accessible funding for youth organizations to organize and implement their activities and projects remains a crucial need.
- The Paris Agreement is rooted in Intergenerational Equity and the young activists called upon the duty bearers and policymakers to respect these principles, respect the agency of young people and the rights of future generations.
- Article 12 of the Paris Agreement calls for Climate Education. But still in many parts of the world this is not implemented and information about climate change is not available for students. This needs to change.
- The facts that governments are still subsidizing fossil fuel and building new coal plants were confronted by the young activists and there was a strong call for action for politicians and institutions to distance themselves from the fossil fuel industry.
- Young people need to be included in the design, implementation and reviewing of the NDCs, adaptation plans and mitigation policies.
- Climate change is an intersectional issue and it needs to be treated and addressed like one.
Thank you for all the young people who have used your time and voices to advocate for the entire generation’s future. But mostly thank you for your dedication and commitment to #ClimateAction.
Let’s remember that Youth Climate Summit was not only about a gathering for climate, but it was a monumental platform to host climate conversation between generations, industries, and stakeholders that will lead to a stronger partnership for a sustainable future.