Editorial: World leaders must listen to the young voices

The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly is underway in New York, with the high-level General Debate due to kick off Tuesday.

Today, the UN Secretary-General is set to convene a Climate Summit, which follows a youth climate forum as well as thousands of youth-led climate strikes last week.

Teen Swedish Greta Thunberg has inspired a movement of young climate activists who are committed to having their voices heard at the world body.

Thunberg and millions of other children around the world have rightly been alarmed by the indifference from influential and powerful leaders around the world toward serious global challenges like climate change even in the wake of dire consequences of global warming, including record sweltering temperatures and unprecedented scale of species extinctions.  

Young people have been keen listeners since time immemorial but they are increasingly tired of endless speechless and inaction from leaders on pertinent issues that directly affect their future, and are coming forward in their millions to demand concrete action to save Mother Earth.

They have grown accustomed to leaders signing and then reneging on their commitments to climate deals, including the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement which seeks to keep global warming below 2°C. Instead, many leaders continue to scale up investments in activities that only exacerbate an already precarious situation to the dismay of young people, who are taking their frustrations to the streets in hope that reason will finally prevail.  

As high-profile leaders from all corners of the world descend on New York for yet another week of countless speeches and diplomatic rhetoric, they should gather courage and face reality – and pay heed to the voices of young people as far as climate change and sustainable development are concerned.

There is no other logical choice after all.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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