Young leaders who are driving climate action have convened on New York City for the Youth Climate Summit at the United Nations. The event will feature a full day of programming that brings together young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and changemakers who are committed to combating climate change at the pace and scale needed to confront the global climate emergency.
The Youth Climate Summit is a key milestone ahead of the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on Monday, calling on leaders from government, business and civil society to boost efforts to tackle climate change.
The youth event comes just one day after the Global Climate Strike led by 16-year-old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, who will also address world leaders at the main Climate Summit on Monday in the General Assembly.
“Yesterday (Friday), millions of people across the globe marched and demanded real climate action, especially young people. We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable,” said Thunberg.
With young people taking centre stage, this was an opportunity for senior UN officials including the Secretary General to listen to voices of the future generation in creating pathways towards a sustainable future.
“Many times, we hear that our generation is going to be the one in charge of dealing with the problems that current leaders have created. We will not wait passively to become that future. The time is now for us to be leaders and that is why we are here – to lead. My message to the Secretary General is simple – let’s stop demanding world leaders to science and let’s start demanding them to act on science,” says Argentina’s Bruno Rodriquez.
Wanjuhi Njorgo was brought up in a village at the foot of Mount Kenya that faced food and water shortages for the first time in January 2018 – a community that galvanized social media to spur authorities into action.
“A national ban of harvesting of forest products was enacted. The government of Kenya has since launched the greening Kenya initiative in December 2018 aimed at achieving our desired 10% forest cover. To my fellow youth, it is evident that starting where we are and with what we have, we’ll cause a revolution. What we are asking for as young people; first, we appreciate that youth are now at the table where the discussions are being held, but our voices and our inputs must be allowed to influence these positions.”
Assuming the title of keynote listener, the UN Chief Antonio Guterres was allowed to share his thoughts with the hundreds of young people gathered who are working to shape the world’s future climate trajectory.
“It’s an enormous pleasure to be a keynote listener when we can listen to meaningful things like the ones we heard and indeed I’ve been more times keynote speaker than keynote listener, but that is one of the problems of world leaders … is that they talk too much and they listen too little. It is in listening that we learn and it is giving the possibility for all those that represent today’s world to speak and to have their voices being part of decision-making processes that we can move forward.”
The event is the first of its kind, providing a platform for young leaders driving climate action, to showcase their solutions at the UN, in a world in need of greater ambition in the midst of a climate emergency.