The global population has less than 11 years to take action and prevent irreversible damage to the planet, according to the special report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which depicts the impacts of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. With this looming deadline, world leaders will convene in New York City from 17-30 September for the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to discuss climate action (SDG 13) as one of the key priorities in the upcoming year.
2019 is an inflection point for climate action
In the midst of UNGA, there will be a dedicated summit where leaders in all sectors ranging from “governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations” will convene to discuss tangible solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% in the next ten years, with the ultimate goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. These leaders will present solutions in areas including energy transition, climate finance, and carbon pricing, industry transition, nature-based solutions, cities and local action, and resilience and action.
Youth are no longer sitting on the sidelines
Youth activists are leading climate movements all over the globe, from Sara Blazevic and Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement and Jamie Margolin of Zero Hour in the United States to 16-year old Greta Thunberg and her school strikes for the climate. They are calling on corporations, lobbying organizations, and governments to take action for a livable future for themselves and the generations that follow.[yop_poll id=”1″]
During a high-level meeting on climate and sustainable development, UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa stated “climate justice is intergenerational justice,” expressing her desire for meaningful youth engagement and collaboration to solve the world’s most pressing issue. UN Secretary-General António Guterres shared similar sentiments in an op-ed for the Guardian, referencing school students who participate in the Friday strikes for the climate.
Young people from around the globe will commence at the Youth Climate Summit this September
Over 7,000 young people between the ages of 18-29 applied to attend the historic Youth Climate Summit which will be held on Saturday, 21 September. Among them, 500 were selected to attend and will participate in a full day of programming, including but not limited to an intergenerational dialogue where they may present their youth-led and youth-focused solutions to the climate crisis. The event will precede the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on Monday, September 23rd.
With 16% of the world’s population consists of young people aged 15-24, according to the World Youth Report, it is increasingly apparent that young people refuse to be just beneficiaries — they are taking charge of their futures, starting with raising their voices on the global climate crisis, taking matters into their own hands and generating solutions.
For more information on attending UNGA events, see the guide here for details.
To participate virtually and share your message on climate action, submit a video with the “My Future, Our Planet” video campaign here.
Belinda C. Chiu is a public health professional and contributing writer at The Rising. She studied Social and Behavioral Interventions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and is passionate about climate advocacy, sustainable development, and zero waste. She is the founder of A Healthy Blueprint, a resource for individuals looking to reduce their environmental footprint. She serves as Associate on the Youth Engagement team at Women Deliver, a leading global advocacy organization for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women.