The event -- Youth Power the Planet: An SDG Activate Talk to Celebrate Earth Day -- celebrated the ways that children and youth are taking climate action.
The young panel inspired their peers to protect the planet and highlighted to decision makers the ways in which young people are integral to achieving climate justice and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Held just a few days before Earth Day, Youth Power the Planet celebrated the variety of ways children and youth are taking climate action. The occasion appropriately marked the launch of the full length comic book, TRe: the Adventures of Brother Earth, by the young winner of UNICEF’s Climate Comic Contest, Sona Sridhar.
To celebrate Sona’s achievement in creatively raising awareness of climate change through her art, a panel of young people discussed how they have each applied their passions and skills — in comics, spoken word, graffiti and STEM — to climate action. While twelve-year-old Gitanjali described her invention to detect contaminated water “faster and cheaper than existing technology,” thirty-year old Sonny displayed his murals of endangered species that stand 8-meters tall with the aim “to strike home the message that these animals are very intricately linked with us and by losing them we are going to lose a part of ourselves.” Other panelists included: Anela Arifi, who invented a sustainable energy source for her community in Bosnia powered by chicken feathers; Sherell Henry, who uses art and code to raise awareness of climate issues in NYC; and Zubaida Bello, who powerfully delivered an original spoken word poem about the human impacts of climate change.
Convened by UNICEF at UN Headquarters, the event targeted an audience of both the young public and the UN community. Through detailing their innovations and creations, the young panel inspired their peers to protect the planet and highlighted to decision makers the ways in which young people are integral to achieving climate justice and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Following a warm welcome from Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy, the President of the General Assembly delivered opening remarks and the Ambassador of India presented a keynote address. Leading up to the comic book launch, the PGA remarked, “I want to say to Sona, congratulations. Your book makes me optimistic about the future. We can all do with some comic relief as the threat of climate change closes in on us. But on a serious note, this comic confronts a difficult truth. Mainly we are driving our planet on a destructive course. We need planet protecting superheroes to turn this around. And to me, you are all superheroes. I will do everything in my power to ensure you have a platform.”
As Sona Sridhar, 21-year old artist from Chennai, took the stage with her mentor Michael DeCheser to announce the launch of her finalized comic book, she remarked, “I hope my superhero TRe inspires each of you to keep up the fight against climate change. Like TRe, we all have the natural ability to love and care for our Earth.”
The discussion ended with the young moderator, Lauren Singer, describing her five year journey to no longer produce trash. “I subscribe to the idea that sometimes if you’re fighting for something or standing for something you can be standing alone. But if you really believe what you’re fighting for, being alone isn’t a bad thing. In fact it can be a really good thing. All of you are such amazing examples of having the courage and bravery to do something that not everyone else is doing. You are all such role models.”
Watch the full recording of Youth Power the Planet: An SDG Activate Talk to Celebrate Earth Day here on UN Web TV.