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Less Talk, More Action on Climate Change, Young People Urge World Leaders
At the largest-ever truly global youth gathering on climate change, some 700 young people, ranging from 10 to 24 years of age, honed in on their governments' track record in addressing climate change, emphasizing the need for strong vision and leadership.
In a statement, the young delegates - representing three billion of the world's population - expressed their "concern and frustration that their governments are not doing enough to combat climate change", adding that "we now need more actions and less talking". The declaration was finalized and adopted by the young participants at the Tunza Children and Youth Conference in Daejeon (Republic of Korea), as part of the global UN-wide 'Seal the Deal!' campaign spearheaded by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to galvanize political will and public support for a comprehensive global climate agreement. "It is very important to include the voice of children and youth in every environmental decision. It is our request to all politicians that they please take this statement into consideration in Copenhagen," said 13-year-old Yugratna Srivastava from India.
The children and youth also addressed the citizens of the planet and urged them to push their governments to create a global green economy. Other recommendations included a call to pressure businesses, producers and governments to promote environmentally friendly products and eco-labeling policies.
"We are the generation of tomorrow. The decisions that are made today will define our future and the world we have to live in. So we young people of the world urge governments to commit to a strong post-Kyoto climate regime. It is our lives we are talking about," said youth delegate, 23-year-old Anne Walraven from the Netherlands.
The statement is the culmination of eight-week-long discussions between young people across the planet using the power of the worldwide web. It was finalized at a Global Town Hall on 20 August in Daejeon, where the 600 participants were joined by over 200 young people in 15 cities around the world including Cuernavaca (Mexico), Nairobi (Kenya), Canberra (Australia), Bangkok (Thailand), Vancouver (Canada) and Athens (Greece), among others.
The Climate Change Statement, entitled 'Listen to Our Voices: The Future Needs Strong Vision and Leadership', comes just four months before the critical climate talks that will take place in Copenhagen in December this year, and just four weeks ahead of the High-Level Summit on Climate Change convened by the UN Secretary-General at the end of September in New York City.
"This global Youth and Children gathering under the Seal the Deal! Campaign is the largest international gathering of young people this year advocating for climate change action. Their voices will and must be heard because they will inherit the outcomes of our actions," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The children and youth are asking governments around the world to:
- Agree on a more fair, just and action oriented post-Kyoto agreement adopted and implemented by all countries;
- Have strict laws and enforcement against those who pollute and degrade the environment, coupled with education and incentives to protect the environment
- Develop and implement clearly defined carbon action plans and climate response strategies, which can be monitored and reviewed by an independent multi-national climate facility
- Transition toward a green economy based on renewable energies and offer more incentives for people to buy affordable energy efficient products
- Reduce the number of vehicles and traffic density on our roads, including improved and affordable public and pedestrian transport systems
- Make engaging environmental education mandatory in schools and universities and promote community environmental awareness - an informed public is a powerful public
- Pay attention to the conflicts that have developed throughout the world and the negative impact it has had on the environment and develop conflict resolution strategies
- Make it mandatory to include carbon and ecological footprint information in products
- Implement green energy and industry, including sustainable food production
- Support youth efforts to make a change in the world
"In many ways this process of coming to an agreement on this final text mirrors what will take place in December in Copenhagen. This statement is the fruit of a diversity of views and voices from young people of different ages and cultures. We very much hope the spirit set by these young people will be reflected in the negotiations that will take place in December," said Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
the world's leaders, from US President Barack Obama to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, will over the coming days receive a personal letter from representatives of the globe's three billion young people urging them to Seal a meaningful Deal on climate change in just over 100 days time. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were on the delegates' mailing list, along with leaders in countries like Zimbabwe, Colombia, Venezuela, Lebanon, Haiti, Pakistan, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Mongolia, Japan and Germany.