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First UN Youth Climate Summit – a great opportunity for islander youth

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 24/09/2019

The first UN Youth Climate Summit was a success with youth leaders vowing continued pressure on governments and business for urgent action to address climate emergency. The Youth climate summit took place on Saturday 21st in New York City and was attended by many youth representatives from around the world including a Tongan girl – Keitilani Lavemai.

Lavemai was one of 100 recipients of Green Tickets sponsored by the United Nations to attend the summit and she is representing the Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change who are pushing Pacific Island leaders to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on human rights and climate change.

Lavemai told Radio & Television Tonga News, “As part of PISFCC we came to the summit with a legal approach to tackling the issue of climate change which is emphasized in our push for support towards the ICJ Advisory opinion on human rights and climate change. As part of our motion, the question that we ask is what duties do states have to protect current and future generations from the adverse effects of climate change.”

She says this summit was a very good program which provided an opportunity for youths from all walks of life from various youth organisations to raise issues they are concerned with on climate change as well as coming together to urge leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit to take further action on climate change to save the planet.

“Given this was the first  Youth UN Climate Summit – it provided a platform for different youth organisations to come together and showcase what they’re bringing and what they’re doing to combat climate change,” Lavemai added, “During the summit, I witnessed a lot of young entrepreneurs showcasing their innovations, young activists who organised climate strikes, organisations that plant mangroves and trees, they were all brought together through this summit to showcase what they were doing to combat climate change.”

Tonga and many other Pacific Islands are extremely vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, ocean acidification affecting islands livelihoods from the ocean, stronger and more frequent cyclones wreaking havoc in the region, to name a few. Lavemai believes this youth climate summit is a good platform to voice our concerns from the Pacific and to urge larger nations to take action against climate change to save our islands.

“It is important that more global platforms like the UN Youth Climate Summit is provided for young people fighting climate change because we are the future and we will be experiencing the full force of climate change in the next years to come,” Lavemai said, “Rather than sitting by and letting the leaders lead the way, there is greater power in young people all over the world, voicing their fears, angers, and concerns.”

The Youth Climate Summit featured a full-day of programs 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 program culminated in unveiling the State of Youth Platform and the ActNow platform that encourages people to take action on climate action. To close the Summit, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Ms. Amina Mohammed took part in a Town Hall with the participants and high-level representatives from Governments and civil society.

Hosted by UN Secretary-General António 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.

© Radio and Television Tonga News