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Hundreds of young people demand greater prominence in the negotiations on climate change

September 22, 2019

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 22 (Thomson Reuters / EP Foundation) –

The representatives of the young climate change activists have demanded a greater presence in decision-making on Saturday, explaining that their increasing prominence in the streets had not yet allowed them to obtain a seat at the political negotiating table.

“Decisions about our future are still taken largely without us,” said Marina Melanidis, the representative of Canada at the meeting, which is held before the United Nations summit that begins Monday with the aim of expediting adoption. of measures to deal with global warming. “Young people deserve to be able to design their own future, and honestly, you can't do that without us,” he told the United Nations leaders.

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has agreed that young people should have more influence on the policies that will affect them, particularly with regard to climate change. “We need young people to be represented in the places where decisions are made, rather than simply protesting outside that system,” he added.

Komal Karishma Kumar of Fiji has warned that young people would begin to hold leaders at the polls accountable if they did not redouble their efforts to deal with climate threats. “We will mobilize to expel them,” he promised.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has recognized the leadership role of young people in the protests that have made the urgency to curb global warming occupy a prominent place in the political agenda.

More than 4 million people marched on Friday in a series of demonstrations held around the world to demand that governments do more to curb rising temperatures, organizers explained.

“To a large extent this change is thanks to you,” Guterres said to some 1,000 young people from more than 120 countries. However, he has warned that “we are still losing the race. Climate change is going faster than we are.”

At the summit held this Saturday, the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, a figure in the youth movement, has described it as “unstoppable”. Other participants have talked about the efforts they are making in their home countries to reduce emissions.

These range from applications to help African farmers adapt to climate change, to campaigns to ban plastic, among other proposals. In addition, they have stressed that many of them are pressing for youth advisory committees to have direct access to government Environment Ministers – something that is already underway in Denmark – or to launch mobile applications that can coordinate and popularize the action. Climate

During the day, an activist has challenged the director of Environment of Microsoft, who was on a panel that judged the presentations of young people at the summit, and asked him about the contracts of the technology giant with fossil fuel companies . “Do you care more about earnings than we do?” The Microsoft representative has responded that the entire “technology sector” is dealing with such links.

Solomon Yeo, 24, a Solomon Islands law student, has indicated that he and many other young people are working to fill the gaps that exist in international law, partly establishing links between climate warming and the way in which It threatens Human Rights.

Thus, they hope to find ways to ensure that cases related to responsibility for climate change are brought before the International Court of Justice, which, according to Yeo, “will help states understand their obligations to protect future generations.”

Emmanuel Mobijo, 24, a representative of South Sudan, has lamented that rains were becoming increasingly scarce in his country, even when many families still depend on agriculture. “Young people have answers. This meeting has proved it,” he added. “But we won't have enough answers for the next generation's questions if we don't act now.”

Pita Taufatofua, an Olympic athlete from the kingdom of Tonga who lives in Australia, burst into tears when describing how his native Pacific island had seen half of its buildings destroyed by a cyclone while he was competing in the Winter Olympics of 2018 in South Korea. “If 50 percent of New York disappeared, people would act. 50 percent of my country was exterminated in one night and people have not yet acted,” he denounced.

Gabriela Cuevas, a Mexican congresswoman, has urged youth leaders to look for ways to “translate their activism into policies and legislation.” “Do not expect the same people (in power) to change everything.” So, welcome to politics, “he concluded.