Youth International Day
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
It has been 20 years since this day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to celebrate the young people, in 1999. During this year’s message (2019), the UN Secretary-general António Guterres highlighted the importance of the educational system and its transformation for the youth; that it should combine knowledge with critical thinking, include information on sustainability and climate change and advance gender equality, human rights and a culture of peace. For today’s celebration I chose to reflect on climate change, young people everywhere are bringing awareness to this crisis, pushing boundaries and asking all generations to do something about it. They don’t want to be another witness to this issue, they want to be the solution; they don’t want to conform to the situation, they want to act on it. Young people today are more aware of the consequences and will suffer from them, more than any other generation before; they also care more about our planet’s biodiversity and the risks that future generations will face.
Following one of the UN Youth 2030 goals which is to increase their “engagement with young people and support them in realizing their rights” I would add that the young climate activists are not only looking for their rights to be fulfilled but for the duties and obligations to be fulfilled as well, and the commitments to the Paris agreement is just one of them. They are asking for responsibility and for action. They might bring hope and faith in humanity but as young activist Greta Thunberg says “more than hope is action” that we need. Younger generations nowadays also have more access to information and their knowledge is a powerful tool for change, as well as technology, to spread the word and to rise their voices and we need to hear them, because they might be young but they have the right to be angry to a future that is being stolen from them. Most importantly the young climate activists are not just blaming or pointing fingers to the government, politicians and big companies, but rather focusing on solutions and providing answers. They have done their research and they know that the resolution to this big problem is within our reach, and this is why they keep fighting for climate justice, creating and designing better equipment, devices and procedures to help the environment, continuously coming up with more and better ideas. Like UN Secretary-general António Guterres I also believe in the power of young people and I want to join in their vision of the future and not “lose faith in humanity”, a so common used expression that clearly resumes many adults state of mind, which consequently reflects on their carbon foot print. I believe that everybody has the obligation to respect and protect the environment. I believe that as much as we found a thousand different ways to destroy it bit by bit, we can also found other thousand ways to heal it and rebuild our ecosystems. But I also believe that some entities have the power to make decisions and changes at much bigger levels than we do just by recycling and changing our diets. If all the parties were meeting their commitments and fulfilling their obligations would we really need to fight so hard for our rights?
As many young people I also look forward to live a decent life and wish to have a meaningful participation in this world, it is not always easy to find our place, and it seems to be more difficult than ever now, the worries and concerns of the older generations are much different, they wish for a safe retirement, young people wish for a safe climate. If the priorities are different, then maybe everything else should be different too, and to quote Greta Thunberg one last time “If solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself”. Or maybe young people are just bringing old ideas to a new light, either way; we do need their courage and bravery to continue to pave the path for the future.