On 20 September 2017 Jona and Allison were invited to the UNGA! They spoke at the High Level Event on Climate Education, Children and Youth at the Climate Week in New York City, hosted at UNICEF Headquarters.
Unfortunately Allison Lievano-Gomez from Mexico City (and UNICEF consultative board member!) could not be with us in person, but she recorded a really special video speech for the panel, which went down a storm! See below to hear her talk about how she educated herself about climate change, and what she hopes leaders of this world will promise to do for the future of the Earth.
Jona was also brilliant, in his communication of what the world must do to help combat climate change, linking his speech wonderfully to the SDGs.
His speech can be read in full below:
My name is Jona David and I am 12 years old. I come from 4 countries - the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Canada. It is a huge honour to speak with you here in New York at UNICEF Headquarters.
First, thank you for being leaders, and for everything you're trying to do to tackle climate change. Education and action on climate change, today, is desperately, seriously important.
If you agree, raise your hands now...
THANK YOU. You are raising your voices for a more sustainable future. That's what I am doing too. My first four books are being published in six UN languages by the UN and the Voices of Future Generations book series. It is amazingly exciting!
With the UN book series, I have been really fortunate to be able to travel to different cities like New York, London, Mexico City, Taipei, Hamburg, Berne, Ottawa and even Rabat in Morocco, in order to share my stories with other children who are interested.
[At this point, Jona briefly highlighted the main messages of his children's books, and how they link to the SDGs. These books can be found here on this website.]
My work is especially to reach out to other children in my region, with a different, more active education. Through our books, educational work, awareness-raising events and projects, all of us Child Authors are trying to speak out for our rights, for our Earth, for the Future We Want.
I am also trying to say that it is important to have the courage to be ourselves, and to stand up for each other. Not just for children today, but for future generations of our children.
Raise your hand if you think things are crucial too?
Other world leaders agree with us. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has already celebrated it's 25th Anniversary. It is a global accord for all children that our rights to a healthy environment, to food and water, and to education will be respected.
And here at the United Nations two years ago, out countries came together to commit to a new set of Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are a set of global goals that all countries can agree to tackle together, whether they are rich or poor, developed or developing. One of the crucial goals was SDG 13 - to take urgent action to combat climate change.
We were here, in New York, hosting a United Nations Children's Summit on the SDGs, alongside. All of us kids in the Summit promised to become Child Ambassadors for these new goals. And we are keeping to that promise.
We were deeply inspired when we heard the same countries had signed the Paris Agreement on climate change, committing to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, support adaptation, report on their efforts and raise awareness everywhere for climate action.
But, raise your hand, if you think all these Goals, especially stopping climate change, and the climate treaty itself, will NOT be easy to deliver?
You are RIGHT. The challenge is that we have a really long way to go, all over the world, to ensure that the rights and interests of future generations are respected, towards sustainable development. Sustainability is crucial for the survival of humanity and our Earth. For all of us, especially children, learning to live sustainably is the difference between terrible global nightmare, and real hope for the future.
If we carry on consuming and polluting, our ecosystems and all our resources will burn out. If highways, rubbish and oil spills take over, animals and plants will be miserable and ill. If we let climate change get worse, many people will be hurt or even die in floods and typhoons.
After all these global promises, it would be terrible if rather than implementing the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, we keep going backwards, doing the exact opposite.
And today, children can help. In the Children's Declaration from our Summit, we asked everyone to recognise that "the decisions the world makes today will impact and define our future".
We pledged to be "the voices of future generations...current global citizens who must play a part in decision-making". After all my own struggles with dyslexia, I'm working to keep that pledge through my writing, and speeches like this one, with you today.
In my stories it's clear. Even the smallest child can make a huge difference for our planet. All of us can take action and ramp us as eco-leaders in our own communities - starting today!
There is so much that children can do to defend the needs and interests of future generations. We can get started by changing our education, not our climate. Here are three ideas!
First, our schools and communities can adopt new eco-science and technologies, for more sustainable education. This can spark everyone to become interested in eco-science for the rest of our lives and to learn how to use it every day. Schools can pilot renewable energy, such as solar panels, wind or even geothermal power. We can insist on sustainable transport with hybrid school buses, bikes or skateboards. We can provide new SDG books and workshops as the amazing Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection does in Morocco.
Second, we can work together to make our whole economy greener. This way, when children grow up, our careers will help instead of hurting the environment. We can all work together to fight climate change and to ensure people respect ecological limits instead of always breaking them.
Third, children (and world leaders) can speak out as advocates for future generations, worldwide.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child promises us the right to be part of decision-making. We can raise awareness to make these things happen on the ground. Even as children, we can blog, use new media to network with others, make posters, start our own radio shows or even write our own books!
Two Child Authors are from the Pacific. Please, include us in the CoP23 Education Day! Us Child Authors can help!
When it comes to the Earth, our own survival, and the survival of all future generations, is at stake. It's urgent.
Children's voices can tell others about problems. But most importantly, we can also become part of many solutions, on the ground, all over the world.
What do you think children can do to help combat climate change? Make your suggestions to us!