75 years on from the founding of the UN, young people are being enlisted to share their visions of a better planet, and help decide the next chapter of the Organization.
Youth representatives are set to address the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the UN 75 anniversary on 21 September 2020, sharing a summary and outcome of the discussions. Ahead of the event, UN News spoke to some prominent youth leaders, to find out what kind of world they want, how they see the UN’s role in the coming decades, and their hopes and fears for the future.
‘It will take selfless women to get us out of this mess’
Leah Namugerwa co-runs the Ugandan chapter of the climate activism group Fridays for Future. Aged just 16, she has already led a tree-planting campaign, launched a petition to enforce Uganda’s ban on plastic bags, and taken part in an all-female UN panel on the future direction of the United Nations.
“As a teenager from a third world country I fear for my future, and the future of the next generations, because of the increasing damage humanity is causing our environment. The climate is no longer safe, and politicians don't seem to care. I am deeply concerned with the slow response from global leaders on climate change and lack of climate justice.
Thankfully, a new wave of young activists is sweeping the world. Young people like Greta Thunberg have become the adults in the room, which inspires me a lot. It will take selfless women to get us out of this mess. Female climate activists are showing leadership all over the world and showing us that solutions are within our reach.
We've seen the urgency and the speed with which world leaders and the private sector have reacted to COVID-19. It's time to do the same thing for the climate crisis. Governments need to start telling the truth about climate change to the public and most importantly declare a climate emergency.
I want the UN to do more to hold governments accountable for the injustices and abuses they commit against their own people and the environment. Young people need to be given an active role, with the power to influence policies.
The UN is trying to make all voices heard, but voices from the global South are still not listened to. It takes a lot of effort for a climate activist from Uganda to be heard internationally. I ask the UN to give us the same platform it gives to our counterparts from developed countries.”