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The UN just elevated its greatest allies in the climate fight: the youth

Akshat Rathi
Leah Namugerwa carries a placard and gestures as she leads Ugandan students in taking part in the global 'School Strike for Climate' in Kampala

It’s been 31 years since the United Nations created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Year after year, the convening countries have published ever-more urgent reports documenting what humans are doing to the climate. The panel has pointed out strategies to tackle the growing crisis—but it can’t turn recommendations into action. That decision is a political one that each country has to make on its own.

After three decades of diplomatic efforts, the UN may finally have an ally to help galvanize action: the youth. No one understands the magnitude of the challenge better than the young people who stand to inherit our climate crisis. Better still, many among them, such as Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, quote paragraphs and page numbers from IPCC’s own reports.

To support the rapidly growing movement, the UN is elevating these young advocates. On Sep. 21, two days before the UN convenes its Climate Action Summit in New York City, the global body has organized the first-ever Youth Climate Summit. And in typical UN style, it has chosen to give a platform not just to people like Thunberg who’ve caught the attention of the world, but to voices from much of the poor world that will suffer the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Thunberg, who has always said the focus should be on the message, not the messenger, will likely be pleased.

On Aug. 20, the UN announced that it is providing “green tickets”—journeys designed to be as low-carbon as possible, according to a spokesperson—to bring a gender-balanced group of 100 young people from 100 countries to the Youth Climate Summit. Ninety-nine of them are under the age of 30. The group includes a renewable-energy entrepreneur from Rwanda, a plastics activist from Serbia, a founder of an environmental NGO from El Salvador, and many of the lead organizers of the international School Strikes for Climate launched by Thunberg.

Here’s the full list of those who agreed to share their names.

Afghanistan Nasreen Sayed
Argentina Bruno Rodriguez
Armenia Svetlana Jaghatspanyan
Australia Alexander Whitebrook
Azerbaijan Nijat Eldarov
Belarus Iryna Ponedelnik
Belize Khadija Usher
Benin Johannes Goudjanou
Bhutan Ugyen Tshomo
Botswana Thomo Lekagane
Brazil Joao Henrique Alves Cerqueira
Bulgaria Radostina Slavkova
Burkina Faso Kadija Simboro
Burundi Delphin Kaze
Cameroon Nche Tala Aghanwi
Canada Brandon Nguyen
Central African Republic Jovial Gba-Gombo
Chile Juan Jose Martin
China Jiaxin Zhao
Colombia Santiago Enrique Aldana Rivera
Comoros Hassane Toiwiya
Costa Rica Alberto Barrantes Ceciliano
Cyprus Alexandros Nicolaou
Czech Republic Lucie Smolková
Democratic Republic of the Congo Diane Bahati
Ecuador Carlos Giovanni Ruiz Moreira
Egypt Abdelrahman Fahmy
El Salvador Jacqueline Lizeth López López
Ethiopia Kadija Kadiro Geche
Fiji Komal Kumar
France Côme Girschig
Greece Stamatis Psaroudakis
Guatemala Helen Eugenia Ramos Nufio
Haiti Vivianne Roc
Honduras Ricardo Andres Pineda Guzman
India Vishnu P R
Indonesia Vania Santoso
Iran Iman Dorri
Italy Federica Gasbarro
Jamaica Dainalyn Swaby
Japan Mayumi Sato
Jordan Zahra Abu Taha
Kiribati Eritai Kateibwi
Kosovo Agim Mazreku
Lithuania Rimante Balsiunaite
Madagascar Tsiry Nantenaina Rakotondratovo Randrianavelo
Malaysia Liyana Yamin
Mali Boubacar Mahamadou MAIGA
Mauritius Lalita Purbhoo Junggee
Mexico Jorge Martínez Pérez Tejada
Nepal Pramisha Thapaliya
Nigeria Joy Egbe
Oman Maryam Al Kharusi
Pakistan Durlabh Ashok
Panama Karel Miranda
Poland Maja Starosta
Rep. of Korea Joo Won Chung
Rwanda Ghislain Irakoze
Samoa Christine Tuioti Mariner
Senegal Ndéye Marie Aida Ndieguene
Serbia Adrian Toth
Seychelles Jeremy Raguain
South Sudan Emmanuel Lobijo Josto Eka
Sudan Fatin Tawfig
Swaziland Sebenele Rodney Carval
Switzerland Marie-Claire Graf
Tajikistan Dilangez Azizmamadova
Togo Koku Klutse
Tonga Madeleine Lavemai
Trinidad and Tobago Mareeka Dookie
Ukraine Yevheniia Zasiadko
United Arab Emirates Haya Almansoori
United States of America Esteeri Kabonero
Uzbekistan Tatyana Sin
Venezuela Annia Costermani Visconti
Zimbabwe Elizabeth Gulugulu


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