Source: Small Island Developing States
22 September 2019: The Youth Climate Summit, convened ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, aimed to give young people the opportunity to voice their demands for climate action. Event outcomes contributed to the Climate Action Summit.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres hosted the 2019 Youth Climate Summit, which brought together youth climate champions from more than 140 countries and territories to share their solutions and deliver a message to world leaders on the urgency of acting now to tackle climate change. The event represented the first time the UN has convened a summit for youth focused entirely on climate action.
The opening session featured the UN Secretary-General serving as a “keynote listener” to a panel of young climate leaders, including Greta Thunberg (Sweden), Bruno Rodriguez (Argentina), Wanjuhi Njoroge (Kenya) and Komal Karishma Kumar (Fiji). Thunberg told leaders “you are failing us,” and warned that her generation will not accept business-as-usual (BAU). Kumar shared how her generation worldwide is “living in constant fear and climate anxiety,” and demanded action, saying that youth will hold leaders accountable and “mobilize to vote you out” if they do not begin working towards a sustainable future. In his remarks, Guterres recognized that there has been a change in momentum in climate action, in part due to Greta Thunberg’s initiative and her courage in starting a movement for climate action. Guterres underscored the essential role of young people in combating the climate crisis, and encouraged them to continue their initiative, mobilization and role in holding his generation accountable.
Climate action must be fair and just and “ensure that no one, especially young people, is left behind.
The Summit featured an intergenerational town hall meeting that brought together youth participants with high-level representative from governments and civil society, including UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. Mohammed said the Youth Summit “is testament to the fact that your generation is leading on climate action” and raising awareness on the climate emergency “in a way that was impossible to imagine just over a year ago.”
The Summit incorporated sessions where young people pitched their ideas to judging panels of C-suite executives and shared winning solutions. A ‘Summer of Solutions’ session enabled young people to pitch tech-based solutions to tackle climate change. Participants shared their ideas across three categories: climate information; circular economy; and ethical fashion. A session on the global hackathon, ‘Reboot the Earth,’ brought together eight winners from six on-site hackathons and two virtual hackathons to share their tech-based solutions to solve climate challenges in their countries.
The winners of the 2019 Global Youth Video Competition were celebrated at the Summit. The winners are: Raquel Gaião Silva from Portugal for her video ‘Ocean Alive,’ in the Cities and Local Action category; Rafael Forsetto and Kiane Assis from Brazil for the video, ‘What is Agroecology,’ in the Nature-based Solutions for Food and Human Health category; and Callie Broaddus from the US for the video, ‘Reserva: The Youth Land Trust,’ in the Balancing Use of Land for People and Ecosystems category. The UNFCCC, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) organized the competition in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the BNP Paribas Foundation.
In closing remarks, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, stressed that “climate change is the defining issue of our time.” She said climate action must be fair and just and “ensure that no one, especially young people, is left behind.” [UN Press Release] [UN News Story] [UNDRR Press Release] [UNECA Press Release] [UN Secretary-General’s Statement] [UNFCCC Press Release on Video Competition] [Summit Website] [Summit Programme] [UN News Story on Youth Envoy]