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Selwin Hart, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Action

Young people encouraged to be powerful agents for change

Young people from Barbados, the region and across the globe have been encouraged to be powerful agents for change, when it comes to climate action.

The advice came from Selwin Hart, Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Action, as he delivered an address during the recently held Global Youth Network Summit on Climate Change and Health, which was hosted virtually by The Ashley Lashley Foundation in partnership with UNICEF and the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative.

Welcoming the hundreds of young people connected to the meeting, Hart extended thanks to Ashley for her leadership of the Ashley Lashley Foundation and UNICEF as well, for having the vision to organise such an event.

“This collaboration shows the UN’s long-standing collaboration in working with youth organisations, to put young people at the top of the global agenda, because the reality is that decisions that are being taken now, will have very little impact on the lifestyles certainly of my generation, but will have a consequential impact on the lives of your generation. We also recognise that young people are powerful agents of change on the most pressing global challenges that we have, including those related to the environment and to climate change,” Hart commented.

Pointing out that Governments are in the process of making major decisions and that they have mobilised trillions of dollars to seek to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to seek to restore economic growth and create jobs, Hart stressed that how the recovery effort is designed and implemented, will have a consequential impact on the ability of countries to meet climate challenges. He stressed that young people therefore need to add their voices to this entire process.

“Your voice in your countries and globally, is needed now more than ever, as governments make these big decisions on how they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. And we know that young people and children, they are deeply concerned about the impact of the pandemic. It is having a disproportionate impact on young people, in terms of job losses and disruption of your education and training and we know that the economic outlook is uncertain. It may be a long time before we recover economically and this is worrying for many young people, as you try to find your first job and advance your career,” Hart added.

“But as we look at the pandemic, we’re also in a race against climate change. While there has been some progress over the last few years and much of that progress is owed to the strong leadership and advocacy of young people, we are nowhere close to where we need to be. For us to be on the trajectory to limit the increase in global warming to 1.5, global emissions need to be reduced by about 45 per cent in the next decade and we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is not an easy task and as I said, we are not close to achieving this and that is why your leadership and advocacy is needed more than ever,” Hart told the youth. (RSM)

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