Hundreds of precocious teens and 20somethings from 190 nations descend on UK capital for One Young World
The world’s largest global forum for young leaders will open on Tuesday, as more than 2,000 young people from across the world converge on London.
One Young World’s 10th annual summit will welcome young delegates from more than 190 countries as well as political and humanitarian leaders, including the former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, Sir Richard Branson, Sir John Major and the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
I learned about the climate crisis at firsthand: the water level in our local dam had fallen by 2ft, which meant our water and electricity was severely rationed. There was nothing abstract about the issue for me. Starting the environmental club, planting trees and talking to local shopkeepers about plastic bags were things I couldn’t not do.
One of the biggest things that being young gave me was the power to go up against huge issues because I simply didn’t appreciate that they were widely regarded as impossible problems.
It was tough, aged just 10, to get my head around things like economic growth and responsible consumption but it’s important that children understand these issues because for most of my life, the major political parties have done as little as they can get away with when it comes to climate change.
Young people like me are the ones who will live with the consequences of inaction on climate. That was a huge motivator for me.
Some politicians and local councillors said I was too young but I didn’t care: I knew what I was doing was right.
I was 12 when I became aware that climate change was causing the floods that regularly destroyed my community. The flood waters were always full of plastic waste.
When I was 15, I had a lightbulb moment: I realised that plastic was harder after being heated, which meant I could use the plastic waste to rebuild my community’s homes strong enough to withstand the floods. It was one solution to two problems.
I mobilised my community, we planted trees, I organised marches, opened conservation clubs in schools across the area. By the time I approached the radio station, they had already heard about me and my work.
Being so young meant I was free-spirited: I wasn’t afraid on my programme to call a spade a spade. I called to task multinationals and government.
I have aways been aware of climate change but we all grew up being told that if we recycled more and switched off the lights, we would save the planet.
I realised as I got older that that’s wrong. I realised that I couldn’t plan my future 20 to 30 years ahead because the world was going to hit a brick wall: it would descend into chaos.
When I was 8, I planted my first tree and began talking to the children and grown ups around me about environmental issues. I realised that the children were so much more responsive and enthusiastic than the adults I was speaking to, so I determined to work with children instead, informing them about environmental issues and what they could do about it.
Young activists have an advantage over adults because we have an uninhibited view of the world. We’re not affected by cynicism or by awareness of how big problems are. We are determined to solve problems and are truly open to new solutions. The world needs more of that attitude. Continue reading...