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Guterres unveils new climate change advisory group, charges youth on accountability

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on Monday, July 27, 2020 announced the names of seven young climate leaders – between the ages of 18 and 28 years old – who will advise him regularly on accelerating global action and ambition to tackle the worsening climate crisis.

António Guterres
UN chief António Guterres in Tuvalu. Photo credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

The announcement, according to the UN, marks a new effort by the global body to bring more young leaders into decision-making and planning processes, as it works to mobilise climate action as part of the COVID-19 recovery efforts.

“We are in a climate emergency. We do not have the luxury of time,” the Secretary-General said in a video announcing the establishment of the Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change. “We need urgent action now – to recover better from COVID-19, to confront injustice and inequality and address climate disruption.”

“We have seen young people on the front lines of climate action, showing us what bold leadership looks like,” he added. “That is why I am launching my Youth Advisory Group on climate change today – to provide perspectives, ideas and solutions that will help us scale up climate action.”

The members of the Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change represent the diverse voices of young people from all regions as well as small island states. They will offer perspectives and solutions on climate change, from science to community mobilisation, from entrepreneurship to politics, and from industry to conservation.

The newly selected members of the Group are: Nisreen Elsaim (Sudan), Ernest Gibson (Fiji), Vladislav Kaim (Moldova), Sophia Kianni (United States), Nathan Metenier (France), Paloma Costa (Brazil) and Archana Soreng (India).

It was gathered that the initial seven members of the Group were chosen to give frank and fearless advice to the Secretary-General, at a time of growing urgency to hold government and corporate leaders to account on climate action.

“Our ancestors have been protecting the forest and nature over the ages through their traditional knowledge and practices. Now it is on us to be the front runners in combating the climate crisis,” Ms Soreng said.

“The climate emergency is a threat to life and taking climate action is the only way to free our future,” Ms. Oliveira said.

“Climate action is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is also about: creating green jobs in a post-COVID world, preserving our health and biodiversity and protecting the poorest and most marginalized communities,” Mr Metenier said.

“As an Iranian-American, I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effect climate change is having on the Middle East. It is crucial for world leaders to stand as a united front as we work to combat the climate crisis and racial injustice,” Ms Kianni said.

“Taking climate action means contributing in the most direct way possible to the great reset of global economic order, an order in which nature will reconquer its rightful place as the main safe tangible asset that will never become stranded,” Mr Kaim said.

“Climate action matters because the story I want to tell my children is of how we took on the biggest challenge the world has ever seen, and we won! We won for them,” Mr Gibson said.

“Taking the right action is the greatest motivation. Keeping up our work is the only solution and doesn’t need a second thought. With every challenge there are many opportunities, but we must do it together,” Ms Elsaim said.

The establishment of the Group, says the UN, builds on last year’s successful Youth Climate Summit – the first time a Secretary-General has convened a summit for young people entirely devoted to climate action.

The Summit brought over 1,000 young climate champions together from more than 140 countries to share their solutions on the global stage and deliver a clear message to world leaders: we must act now to confront the climate crisis. The initiative is also aligned with the Secretary-General’s vision for the UN Youth Strategy, launched in September 2018.

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