• Monday, Aug 10, 2020
  • Last Update : 05:49 pm

Young leaders tapped to invigorate UN’s climate action plans, hold leaders to account

  • Published at 05:11 pm July 28th, 2020
United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres
United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres AFP

Seven young climate activists to take formal seat at UN table

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has announced the names of seven young climate leaders – between the ages of 18 and 28 years – who will advise him regularly on accelerating global action and ambition to tackle the worsening climate crisis.

The announcement marks a new effort by the UN to bring more young leaders into decision-making and planning processes, as the UN works to mobilise climate action as part of the Covid-19 recovery efforts, said the UN office in Dhaka on Tuesday.

“We are in a climate emergency. We do not have the luxury of time,” the secretary-general said in a video announcing the establishment of the Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change. 

He said they need urgent action now -- to recover better from Covid-19, to confront injustice and inequality and address climate disruption.

“We have seen young people on the front lines of climate action, showing us what bold leadership looks like,” he added. “That is why I am launching my Youth Advisory Group on climate change today -- to provide perspectives, ideas and solutions that will help us scale up climate action.”

The members of the secretary-general’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change represent the diverse voices of young people from all regions as well as small island states.  

They will offer perspectives and solutions on climate change, from science to community mobilisation, from entrepreneurship to politics, and from industry to conservation.

The newly selected members of the Group, ranging from 18-28 years old, are:

Nisreen Elsaim (Sudan), a climate activist and junior negotiator at intergovernmental climate change platforms  with experience across a range of environmental topics, and she was part of the social movement that brought about democratic change in Sudan. 

Ernest Gibson (Fiji) is the co-coordinator for 350 Fiji, a regional youth-led climate change network, driven by young climate leaders. 

Vladislav Kaim, (Moldova) is a young economist committed to ensuring green and decent jobs for youth, and he brings deep expertise in international trade and migration.

Sophia Kianni (United States) has helped organize nationwide strikes and has built a network of non-profits as part of the Zero Hour National Partnerships Team.

Nathan Metenier (France) is the political director at the ‘Jeunes Ambassadeurs pour le Climat’, where he helped develop the French youth climate coalition. 

Paloma Costa Oliveira (Brazil) is a lawyer and human rights defender who has coordinated the youth delegations to several climate conferences.

Archana Soreng (India) is experienced in advocacy and research, and she is working to document, preserve, and promote traditional knowledge and cultural practices of indigenous communities.

The initial seven members of the group have been chosen to give frank and fearless advice to the Secretary-General, at a time of growing urgency to hold government and corporate leaders to account on climate action.

“Our ancestors have been protecting the forest and nature over the ages through their traditional knowledge and practices. Now it is on us to be the front runners in combating the climate crisis,” Soreng said.

“The climate emergency is a threat to life, and taking climate action is the only way to free our future,” Oliveira said.

“Climate action is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is also about: creating green jobs in a post-covid world, preserving our health and biodiversity and protecting the poorest and most marginalised communities,” Metenier said.

“As an Iranian-American, I have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect climate change is having on the Middle East. It is crucial for world leaders to stand as a united front as we work to combat the climate crisis and racial injustice,” Kianni said.

“Taking climate action means contributing in the most direct way possible to the great reset of global economic order, an order in which nature will reconquer its rightful place as the main safe tangible asset that will never become stranded,” Kaim said.

“Climate action matters because the story I want to tell my children is of how we took on the biggest challenge the world has ever seen and we won! We won for them,” Gibson said.

“Taking the right action is the greatest motivation. Keeping up our work is the only solution, and doesn't need a second thought.  With every challenge there are many opportunities, but we must do it together,” Elsaim said.

The establishment of the group builds on last year’s successful Youth Climate Summit – the first time a Secretary-General has convened a summit for young people entirely devoted to climate action. 

The summit brought over 1,000 young climate champions together from more than 140 countries to share their solutions on the global stage and deliver a clear message to world leaders: we must act now to confront the climate crisis. 

The initiative is also aligned with the secretary-general’s vision for the UN Youth Strategy, launched in September 2018.

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