There Is Always Hope: Why Young Adults Are Coming To The UN Youth Climate Summit

Photo: G/O Media

Hundreds of young people from around the world have congregated in New York. It’s nearly Climate Week, huge strikes are happening today and Friday, and the United Nations has awarded some 100 young climate activists from different corners of the globe “Green Tickets” to the first-ever UN Youth Climate Summit this weekend. There, youth will get a chance to engage with global leaders to talk climate change ahead of a major international summit on Tuesday.

The UN Youth Climate Summit will allow young people from around the world to come together and talk climate solutions. They’ll meet with activists and innovators to help make their ideas a reality. They can even submit these proposals to the UN’s Summer of Solutions, which aims to bring these ideas to life. There’s even talk about writing a sort of declaration to present to world leaders.

The ticket winners were chosen from a pool of 7,000 international climate advocates between the ages of 18 and 29. The UN is covering their travel expenses to be in New York, and the winners are coming from places as far off as Senegal, Malaysia and Chile. A few of the winners are even climate refugees. If the youth can develop a solution global leaders love, they may wind up influencing the decisions that come out of the UN Climate Summit. That’s the goal for many, at least.

Gizmodo got to chat with a few Green Ticket winners to hear about the ways they’re changing the world and why it’s so important. Their responses have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.


Mayumi Sato, 24, Japan

Founder, Landscape Narratives

How do you get other young people involved in the climate movement?

The magnitude of climate change and its detrimental impacts naturally give young people the urge to become more involved. Young people have generally been at the forefront of moving for change, so young people are naturally inclined to join the climate movement.

What biggest systemic change would you like to see?

I like this question because, of course, we all must individually take action, but it’s also a question of how do we change the system and the inequities that have disproportionately affected people in Japan. I want to see how climate change mitigation and climate justice can serve as an entry point to address other social and environmental issues. Policies need to exist, but they’re not always taking a deeper look at how they’re impacting social groups in practice. We need specific attention on how to safeguard groups like women and indigenous people and young people.

What do you do for fun when you’re not trying to save the world?

I like to run. I started running half-marathons almost a year ago. I also like to read and love watching basketball and baseball.


Ricardo Andres Pineda Guzman, 21, Honduras

Climate activist

How do you get other young people involved in the climate movement?

I have to admit it’s hard. In my opinion, most of the people who have followed certain actions have done it by looking at others and seeing they’re genuine. When people see your lifestyle, they see you’re committed. They want to be like you. That’s more convincing than talking.

What can individuals do to combat climate change?

I think individual actions matter, but we’re past the point where that’s going to save the planet. An action that helps a lot is speaking to local businesses and companies. Generating this kind of conscious to local companies and businesses makes a bigger impact than what you or your family can do.

What do you do for fun when you’re not trying to save the world?

I really like playing FIFA [the soccer video game] and soccer, in general. I don’t play, but I like watching my favourite teams.


Zahra Abu Taha, 29, Jordan

Founder, iGreeners

What inspired you to get involved in the climate movement?

We are the last generation that can fix this. Our kids will be directly affected by climate change. The strikes and the impacts we are seeing made me really want to take action on climate change. We don’t have to wait for a moment to be inspired. All that’s going on in our lives has impacted our climate.

Do you worry about how climate change will affect your homeland?

I care not only about my country. Sustainability and climate change aren’t just about our homelands. We are working for the planet, not only for our home.

What do you do for fun when you’re not trying to save the world?

I write poetry in Arabic and some novels. I write for love. There are so many words to express love in Arabic.


Tsiry Rakotondratovo Randrianavelo, 28, Madagascar

Founder, Move Up Madagascar

Do you worry about how climate change will affect your homeland?

Madagascar is known for its biodiversity, but sadly all biodiversity is disappearing year by year.

How do you get other youth involved in the climate movement?

We campaign and engage them to follow us. We provide them with technical support and share opportunities with them to make their ideas real. We work directly with local youth organisations, but we’re also collaborating with the government in Madagascar.

What do you do for fun when you’re not trying to save the world?

I prefer to spend my time saving the world, but I love reading books and travelling.


Vivianne Roc, 21, Haiti

President, Plurielles

How do you get other youth involved in the climate movement?

With the help of my association Plurielles, I raise awareness. I help these young people, especially young women, to better understand what climate change and the many problems they may face, but I also help them to take part in different solutions to deal with it. Because yes, women also have their place in this battle.

What do you hope will come out of the UN Climate Summit?

I fight for the rights of young women and the climate, so I hope that women back in my country will realise that they also have words to say. It is time for them to make their voices heard, to make decisions, and to come up with new solutions because women are affected by the climate. I am a girl from Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, and I have the opportunity to attend this great climate summit. I hope that my daring to do so will serve as an example to many other young people to not give up. There is always hope.

What do you do for fun when you’re not trying to save the world?

When I have free time, I tend to travel away from the capital to go to the rural areas to reconnect with nature, breathe fresh air, find pleasure in listening to the songs of cicadas at night and refuel. It helps me recharge my battery and return to fight again.


Joo Won Chung, 25, South Korea

Member, Youth for Climate Action

What can individuals do to combat climate change?

I think protests and marching are the most we can do now.

Do you worry about how climate change will affect your homeland?

Yes, so far we have been able to eat with imported food products, but if the climate crisis worsens, we will be much more threatened.

What do you do for fun when you’re not trying to save the world?

Going to see the sight of beautiful nature at the sea and beach.


Federica Gasbarro, 24, Italy

Fridays for Future, Rome

What can individuals do to combat climate change?

We can do lots of things. We can replace our plastic objects with something else. Reduce or stop our use of meat. Use bicycles. As consumers, we have lots of power!

What inspired you to get involved in the climate movement?

One day, I will not want to tell my children I remained silent and didn’t act when something could still be done. I want them to live on this beautiful planet and enjoy all the wonders Mother Earth has given to us, not to hear stories about the past.

What do you do for fun when you’re not trying to save the world?

Trying to change the world requires lots of time and effort, but in my free time I am a green influencer on Instagram. I love riding horses and skiing above all.


João Henrique Alves Cerqueira, 27, Brazil

Co-founder, Ciclimaticos

What biggest systemic change would you like to see?

Reaching zero emissions before 2050 would be amazing because it’s possible. We already have the technology. We just don’t have the political will right now, and it’s what we need to do to prevent the worst-case scenarios.

What do you hope will come out of the UN Climate Summit?

It would be amazing to connect with different activists and learn about what people are doing in their home countries. This is my fourth or fifth UN conference I’m attending, so I’m a little bit sceptical. It’s symbolic that this is all happening in the U.S. because it sends a message to the U.S. government and also the Brazilian government because Trump supports Bolsonaro.

What do you do for fun when you’re not trying to save the world?

I’m such a cliché because I like to ride my bicycle around the city and just relax and listen to music.

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