New York, Sep 22 : A day after thousands of young people marched and rallied for urgent climate action, young leaders brought their message to the UN for the Youth Climate Summit, the opening salvo of the three-day-long UN Climate Action Summit, which will culminate on Monday.
The Youth Climate Summit -- the first time the UN has convened a summit for young people completely devoted to climate action -- aimed to give voice to the demands of young people to take far swifter action to reduce the emissions.
The Summit opened on Saturday with a dialogue between youth and decision makers, putting young people in the driving seat with voice and agency to realise their potential and the change they are persisting towards climate action.
Hosted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Youth Climate Action Summit brought youth climate champions together from more than 140 countries and territories to a platform to share their solutions on the global stage, and deliver a clear message to world leaders we need to act now to address climate change.
The outcomes of the Youth Climate Summit will feed into the Climate Action Summit, which will be attended by heads of state and government as well as business CEOs and civil society leaders.
Guterres, calling this generation of young people "essential" in combating the climate crisis, said today's gathering was a critical milestone ahead of Monday's Climate Action Summit, where he has asked world leaders to come with bold, concrete plans.
He credited youth for shaking up leaders' "laissez-faire" approach to climate change.
"We are not yet there," Guterres said, adding "we are still losing the race against climate change".
"But there is a change in momentum. Largely this change in momentum was due to your (Greta Thunberg's) initiative, and to the courage with which you have started this movement.
"Millions around the world (are) saying clearly, not only that they want change, not only that decision makers must change, but they want them to be accountable," he added.
"I have grand-daughters. I want them to live in a livable planet. My generation has a huge responsibility. It is your generation that must hold us accountable to make sure we don't betray the future of humankind."
The Youth Climate Summit featured a full-day of programmes that brought together young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change makers committed to combating climate change at the pace and scale needed to meet the climate challenge.
The programme culminated in unveiling the State of Youth Platform and the ActNow platform that encourages people to take action on climate action.
Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, said "Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Millions of young people all over the world are already being affected by it. If we don't act now, the impact will be severe."
Global emissions are increasing, temperatures are rising and the impacts of climate change are growing.
Climate change is already affecting the lives of all people, but for the 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years, the issue is felt with far more urgency as it will shape their lives in ways never witnessed before.
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