Youth Create, Innovate to Support SDGs, Paris Agreement
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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At an event organized by UNICEF and the Permanent Mission of India, Sona Sridhar, a 21-year-old artist launched her winning comic book, presenting Tre, a half woman-half tree superhero who fights corporations that want to destroy the Earth.

UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak announced that he will convene a Youth Dialogue on 30 May.

19 April 2018: A panel of young people discussed how they have applied their passions and skills in comics, spoken word, graffiti, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to climate action. A comic book created through the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Climate Comic Contest was launched during the event.

The event themed, ‘Youth Power the Planet: An SDG Activate Talk to Celebrate Earth Day,’ took place on 19 April 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The event was organized by UNICEF and the Permanent Mission of India on the occasion of International Mother Earth Day, which is celebrated every year on 22 April.

Noting that youth represent the age cohort that will benefit the most from the SDGs’ success – or to pay the highest price if the Goals are not met – Laurence Chandy, UNICEF, stressed the importance of working with youth as active agents of change rather than treating them as beneficiaries or as part of the problem.

Miroslav Lajcak, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President, noted that when we think about climate action, we often think about what our governments should do. However, there are things that we can all do to make a difference, he said, and young people can show us how. He invited youth to use a microphone, create a comic book, send a tweet or post a vlog to raise awareness, inspire action, and hold governments and businesses accountable. Underscoring that we need “planet-protecting superheroes,” which all youth are, Lajcak announced that he will convene a Youth Dialogue at UN Headquarters in New York, on 30 May 2018.

Participants highlighted the contribution that spoken poetry can make to raising awareness about climate change.

Sona Sridhar, a 21-year-old artist from India who won the first-ever UNICEF Climate Comic Contest, launched her winning comic book. She presented Tre, a superhero she created, who “breaks free from her chains,” finds her calling and uses her power for the environment. Half woman and half tree, Tre is a superhero who fights corporations that want to destroy the Earth.

Following the presentation of the comic book, other youth presented their projects. Top Young Scientist Winner Gitanjali Rao, a 12-year-old innovator from the US, spoke about a cheap device she developed to rapidly test water for lead contamination, inspired by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, US. Anela Arifi, a 20-year-old inventor and energy and environment sustainability advocate from Bosnia, presented a system she invented for alternative fuel production and storage using chicken feathers and fat.

Sonny, a street artist from South Africa, introduced a project called, ‘To the Bone,’ which is raising awareness of endangered animals through murals across the world. He noted that humans are not above, but rather part of, nature, and called for a change in the way we think to tackle significant environmental and social challenges.

Zubaida Bello, poet and Urban Word NYC Youth Leadership Council Member, highlighted the contribution that spoken poetry can make to raising awareness about climate change. Sherell Henry, NYC Junior Ambassador from the Brooklyn Science and Engineering Academy, explained how she uses art to promote climate action.

In the ensuing discussion, youth from the audience committed to turning off the air conditioning more often, using metal utensils instead of plastic cutlery, and replacing plastic bags with reusable bags, in support of the Earth’s health. [Event Programme] [UNGA President Remarks] [Meeting Webcast]


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