14 Mar 2019 Story Climate change

Calling youth to power: what’s your message?

The movement is on. On the evening of the world’s largest global march of young people calling for climate action, we’re asking youth to talk to power.

The “Speaking Youth to Power” evening dialogue and cocktail during the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, is an opportunity for young leaders to directly interact with a high-level audience.

Led by the UN Environment Young Champions of the Earth programme, the discussion is an opportunity to speak out on urgent environmental issues. The conversation will be facilitated by an all-under 31 panel, bringing new ideas and big solutions to the debate.

The audience will include world leaders and delegations from the World Bank, corporate leaders from Apple and others, and conservation groups. It will be a moderated five-person panel of selected Young Champions of the Earth and other inspiring youth voices.

“We will be touching on some of the most important issues facing our species,” says Gator Halpern, Young Champion of the Earth for Latin America and Caribbean, and Coral Vita Founder. His company addresses serious coral reef decline with a solution to multiply and restore corals.

“We’re not being ambitious enough in our current action. Climate change is already here. We’re seeing its effects daily, and scientists continue to warn us about the devastation it causes our society. 

“As we continue to sit and talk about what to do, half of the world’s coral reefs have already died. In the span of a single generation we’ve seen these incredible ecosystems, which sustain magical amounts of biodiversity, collapse due to human impact.”

Halpern and Young Champion of the Earth for North America, Miranda Wang, will steer the conversation. They will ask: what’s the best-case scenario for a realistic human response to climate change?

Even if we successfully achieve the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, and we limit warming to 2°C, our world will be hard to recognize. Are we doing enough to protect it? What must we do now to safeguard our future?

We need new goals and a vision that can inspire people to demand change. “Our generation is not arguing about climate change. What’s needed is a clear vision—then this generation will stand up to make sure that it happens,” added Halpern.

Young people have the desire, drive and passion to transform the current state of the world. Young champions can make the difference needed when their voices are incorporated into the environmental discussion of our time.

This 2019 Assembly will adopt a Ministerial Declaration, come up with solutions from Member States contributing to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and approve a global Implementation Plan on Pollution.

As ministers and decision makers head into the various sessions, we need groundbreaking ideas.


Join us at the Speaking Youth to Power event at the One Planet Summit Venue with a cocktail reception 5:45 p.m.–7 p.m. and dialogue 7–8:30 p.m. on Thursday, 14 March. Join the conversation live here and on Twitter through the hashtags #SolveDifferent and #YoungChamps.

Are you a Young Champion of the Earth? UN Environment is looking for changemakers. Powered by Covestro, the prize offers seed funding, mentorship, support and a platform to take your message far and wide. Apply today—applications close on 31 March 2019.