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   Real stories from youth activists
Monica, 23
from San Francisco
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Global climate change matters to me because every being, regardless of race, income, gender, sex, age, nationality, religious views, or political views, deserves the right to their basic human needs, and to enjoy and celebrate all that nature has to offer.
 

Anthropocentric climate change is not a coincidence and it is our responsibility to clean up our environment so future generations can enjoy a clean, healthy, and sustainable Earth.

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Junior, 11
from Vanuatu
I am 11 years old and I am a sixth grader from Efate, Pango and I want to make a change. Here is a poem that means a lot to me and hopefully to you as well:

 

The Future That I Want 

I want to live in a future that where I feel safe

A future that I can drink clean water and eat fresh food

To live peacefully with my environment and not in fear of it

I want to live on the land that my ancestors lived on

And I want my children to live on it as well

But because of climate change I am worried

 

I am worried because climate change is not treated as an emergency

I am worried because our leaders are not doing enough

I am worried that my future is being robbed in front of my eyes

I am worried that people do not want to change

I am worried for the future that I want

That is why I chose to fight

 

I am now fighting a great climate war

I am fighting for my future and the future of my children

And I am not alone in this great climate war

Youth like me are fighting all over the world

Fighting in together for the future that we want

The time is now, join us or watch us make change

To secure the future that we want

Tankyu Tumas    (thank you very much)

Gianna, 20
from Chicago
Climate change is the most widespread and threatening issue of the twenty first century. It forces a tremendous level of stress on all ecosystems and their inhabitants, especially ones that are most susceptible to drastic temperature changes and sea-level rise.
 

Internationally, we must demand that leaders implement powerful policies to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Therefore, the ICJ should utilize its strength by fighting for climate justice in order to protect the planet and the generations to come.

Alaina, 23
from
East Tennessee
I am an environmental planner specializing in solid waste and the Executive Director of a Keep America Beautiful affiliate. Through my job and activism I aim to help my region develop sustainable solid waste solutions and economic growth.
 

I have seen firsthand where our waste goes, and I am determined to overhaul our national solid waste strategy and increase public participation in order to protect Northeast Tennessee’s natural resources and further the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nicole,
from the
Philippines
Countries like the Philippines stand to be the most vulnerable in the ongoing climate crisis. When we speak of climate change, what’s at stake is our home. Our action is needed now more than ever and failing is not an option. 
Jay'Len, 21
from Michigan
Climate change has been and still remains the greatest existential threat to mankind. [Note: Jay’Len is the eighth annual UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations.]

 

I experienced Hurricane Harvey the same year I moved to Texas and since that time, natural disasters in Texas, and surrounding areas, have ramped up. Hotter summers, colder winters, more dangerous hurricanes. I, for one, want to see the effects of climate change mitigated and action taken on a national level from the current US Government.

Arielle, 23
from New Jersey
Since I was extremely young, I always innately understood that I had privilege. But it wasn't until I was 17 that I learned about environmental injustice and environmental racism. I was in shock. Upon learning the stories and statistics of environmentally-caused health problems in the USA and around the world, I became activated to learn and do more. 

 

I've interned in agroforestry and sustainable community development in the jungles of Panama, I've taught environmental and social literacy to thousands of people, ages 5-65, I lead the charge to form a climate and environmental justice action movement at my alma mater, and I've farmed in educational, communal, and commercial settings for the last 6 years. But none of this feels like enough. I can have great conversations and inspire little ones to take up the burden, but the political system degrades rather than healthily regenerating, more public lands are being opened up for commercial exploitation, and asthma rates amongst schoolchildren in the South Bronx are only getting worse. 


Through each of my experiences, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the climate emergency isn't coming, it's already happening. It's been happening. Whether you're a farmer in New Jersey, a merchant in Puerto Rico, or an elder in Pakistan, the effects are already being felt and taking human lives, not to mention countless other-than-human lives. It is my hope and mission that more everyday people rise up not only to confront their governments, but become their governments. It is my hope that liberty and justice for all will see its day in the sun. To me, the hope and pursuit of true, deep democracy is the the most worthy and noble battle. 

Asia, 24
from the
Philippines
I'm currently a junior law student from the Philippines. Filipinos across the country are forced to deal with the worsening effects of climate change (stronger typhoons, drought, coral bleaching etc.) and not everyone has the capacity to buy their way out of the crisis.
 

I go around the Philippines a lot, and it pains me to see that my fellow Filipinos living in beautiful landscapes are also the ones dealing with the effects of climate change on a daily basis.

 

Victor, 24
from Nepal
The effects of climate change have become more apparent than ever. As an international student studying in the United States, I am concerned about the glaciers that are melting faster than usual in the Himalayas, and its effects to the Himalayan ecosystem.

 

Climate action is important to me because global climate change is one of the most threatening crises that the world is facing, and it’s only going to get worse if all of us don’t start taking actions from the individual level.

Emily, 23
from Illinois
I am an environmental engineer working in Mexico to help make communities more resilient in the face of climate change. The community I am living in is facing drastic changes in rain patterns that affect their harvests, which is the primary source of income for many.

 

I am working with local government groups to implement a waste management program as well as create and improve school gardens that will help mitigation and adaptation efforts as well as reduce pollution in the area. 


I first became interested in environmental issues hearing stories of my grandma who grew up on a farm in North Dakota during the dust bowl. Seeing the damage that humans can do to the environment and themselves has stuck with me ever since. Currently, we see this same disregard for the environment we saw prior to the dust bowl, only now on a much larger and international scale. Climate change harms all people but it is especially dangerous to those without much money or political power. The ICJ should be working to protect these people from the very real effects of climate change that are already hurting so many today.

Dulanjaya, 24
from Sri Lanka
I'm a researcher and founder of Voice for Climate Change. I'm dedicated to providing the world with an objective, political and social view of climate change and its environmental, political, social and economic impacts and risks, and possible response options.
 

Earth has suffered five mass extinctions within millions of years from its inception. 66 million years after the last mass extinction, now there is a risk of a 6th mass extinction. All previous mass extinctions that have occurred so far have been caused by unforeseen natural processes. But there is speculation that the 6th extinction will be caused by negative climate change, which is caused by human activities.

 

Today's global crises show that climate change is now at a critical juncture, and that can no longer be regarded and omitted as merely a chain of phenomena based on scientific and environmental factors. The need of the era is to address and manage the social, economic, political, technical and other factors that have contributed to create this problematic climate situation. Without allowing unrestrained human consumption to ruin the planet's future, justice should be given to the climate. The future of the planet depends on the way we deal with climate change during this transition period.

Kylie, 21
from 
Pennsylvania
I am a student, an environmental organizer, and an intern with the Department of the Interior's Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance in Philadelphia. Through my career, I want to create a more sustainable future by enacting policies that consider the environment and the economy jointly, such as carbon pricing. 

 

Climate change is not just global warming or rising sea levels. It is food insecurity, fishery collapse, water scarcity, and property damage felt at the local and regional levels. We need to act now to combat this grave threat at all levels of government and through all sectors of the economy.

Solomon, 24
from the
Solomon Islands
We need to place human rights in the center of the climate change debate and one of the feasible ways forward is to take climate change and human rights to the International Court of Justice. Let us hear what the highest court in the world has to say on the biggest problem today.
Njabulo, 24
from 
South Africa
I am a grad student wanting to specialize in finance and development, and I have a huge interest in the tech space. This is especially considering how the application of technology can enable communities to grow faster.
 
The future is within our grasp, we can let this opportunity escape us or we can take it and forge a bright path going forward.

Imagine one day waking up and finding out via social media that a town off the coast of your birthplace has been swept under the ocean? This could one day be a reality with the environment changing around us. And the worst part about it? We helped create this situation. Climate change is happening. Whether you accept it or not. We can either keep dividing ourselves further with what the facts are, or we can work together to create sustainable goals that will ensure we leave behind a world that is still habitable.

Eleanor, 26
from 
Massachusetts
Climate change matters to me because it is affecting every aspect of our natural and social world. It is causing glaciers to melt, farmable land to become arid, and extreme weather events like floods, storms, and droughts. These changes are, in turn, aggravating economic and social issues like mass migration and food and water scarcity.

 

I grew up surrounded by nature, living on a farm in rural Massachusetts. Over the years I watched as the forest around me became overgrown with invasive species, the roadsides became increasingly filled with litter, and the songbirds became more and more rare. As a result, I decided to study environmental policy and regulation so I could learn how to make structural changes in our society and democratic institutions that would promote sustainable, low-carbon living and protect our world’s biodiversity.

Robin, 22
from Tennessee
I am an environmental law student, Climate Reality Leader, and recently part of the Class of 0000 campaign with the Alliance for Climate Education and other climate activists. As a law student, I want to be an ally to younger students in this movement, and ensure that their voices are heard.

 

​On a personal level, my family's home flooded during Hurricane Florence. I have seen the consequences of fossil fuels firsthand, from environmental racism in the South Bronx where I went to college, to mountaintop removal near my home in Appalachia, and I am committed to being part of the generation that chooses a new path. I hope that my work as a youth advocate helps in some small way to ease the burden on families around the world who have suffered through similar circumstances. 

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