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Youth leaders call for urgent action to address climate emergency

  • Published at 04:10 pm September 22nd, 2019
Official Poster of UN Climate Summit 2019 Collected

UN-Secretary General Antonio Gueterres hosted the summit

Youth leaders  and change makers from around the world brought their message to the United Nations (UN) at the UN Youth Climate Summit on Saturday, September 21 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, as part of a weekend of events leading up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Monday, September 23. On the day of the summit, youth around the globe participated in a march in their respective countries, demanding urgent climate action

It is the first time that the UN has convened a summit for young people completely devoted to climate action. The summit aimed at giving voice to the demands of young people, who are urging the world to take  swift action to reduce emissions that, without action, are on track to reverse the development gains of recent decades that have improved the lives of millions of people.

“The summit opened a dialogue between youth and decision makers, putting young people in the driving seat with voice and agency to realize their potential and the change they are persisting towards climate action.” said the UN Information Centre in Dhaka.

Hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the Youth Climate Action Summit brought youth climate champions together, from more than 140 countries and territories, to a platform 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 outcomes of the Youth Climate Summit will feed into the Climate Action Summit, which will be attended by heads of state and governments, as well as business CEOs and civil society leaders.

Secretary-General Guterres, calling this generation of young people “essential” in combating the climate crisis, said: “The gathering was a critical milestone ahead of Monday’s Climate Action Summit.”

He has asked world leaders to come with bold, concrete plans and has credited the youth for shaking up world leaders’ approach to climate change. 

“We are not yet there, but there is a change in momentum. This change was due to Greta Thunberg’s (Swedish environmental activist) initiative, and to the courage with which he has started this movement.” Secretary-General Guterres said.

“Millions around the world are clearly saying, not only do they want change and for decision makers to change, but they want them to be accountable,” he added.

The Youth Climate Summit featured a full-day of various programs that brought together young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change makers committed to combating climate change at the pace and scale needed to meet the potentially disastrous effects of climate challenge.

The program culminated in unveiling the State of Youth Platform and the ActNow platform that encourages people to take action on climate issues.

To close the Summit, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed took part in a Town Hall with the participants and high-level representatives from governments and civil society.

Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, said: “Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Millions of young people all over the world are already being affected by it. If we don’t act now, the impact will be severe.”

Sea ice and ice mass continue to decrease, sea-level rise is accelerating, and sea water is becoming more acidic. Food insecurity and health impacts are growing. But the world is continuing to invest in fossil fuels.

Jayathma Wickramanayake emphasized that climate action must be fair and just.

“We have to ensure that no one, especially young people, is left behind.

“The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, are a blueprint for the world to achieve sustainable development by 2030. Climate action is crucial to achieve this.” she said.