United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres named seven young climate leaders Thursday to be his Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, underlining the role of youth advocates in climate action.
They include advocates, tribal land defenders, educators, and activists and will serve through the end of next year. They’re the second-ever group of climate youth advisers, the first having been selected in 2020.
They were selected by Guterres from Poland, the Gambia, Saint Lucia, Philippines, Colombia/Paraguay, Ireland and the U.S. The team will advise the United Nations on climate action and policies.
At the announcement, Guterres urged young climate advocates around the world to continue raising their voices and said that the “unrelenting conviction” of young people is essential to keeping climate goals within reach, lowering fossil fuel emissions, and delivering climate justice.
Fatou Jeng, a climate educator and frontline activist from Gambia, now a U.N. advisor, said she’s devastated that her generation will have to bear the burden of the “climate destruction done by the older generation.”
“Youth constitute the majority of the population of the African continent and play a crucial role in addressing the impacts of climate change,” said Jeng. “Young people should be at the center for justice and action.”
In accepting her new advisory role, Ayisha Siddiqa, a Pakistan-American human rights and tribal land defender, said all communities can protect their environment.
“It’s too big of a responsibility to try to save everything all at once," Siddiqa said. “We need people working towards protecting their little corners of the world ... My message is: You don’t have to do it all, but give your little corner of the world, your all."
From the Fridays for Future movement spearheaded by Greta Thunberg to the recent viral #StopWillow protests on TikTok, young people are credited as playing a significant role in challenging global leaders to take action against the fossil fuel industry.
At a Youth Climate Summit in September 2019, Guterres said that his generation had failed at preserving both justice and the environment and said that youth are essential to holding older generations accountable to “make sure that we don’t betray the future of humankind.”
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