If you would like to contribute your thoughts, please leave a message at the bottom of this article or go to the IUCN Web site to leave a question for the World Leaders Dialogues. -- Ed.
In 2011, I participated in the 2011 Gwangju UEA UNEP Youth Forum held in Gwangju, Korea. The forum was held as part of the Gwangju Summit of the Urban Environmental Accords Cities hosted by United Nations Environmental Program. A total of 100 students (50 from Korea and 50 from outside Korea) interested in environment protection participated.
To commemorate the 2012 World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Jeju, The Weekly asked these young people to share their ideas about environment and some words for the world leaders. What follows are their responses, which are edited for length and clarity.
Cris Raymund Viray British Council Global Changemaker and university student from Antipolo, Rizal, Philippines
Every year approximately 20 typhoons come to the Philippines and is a major problem especially when metro Manila floods. As a youth trying to help in building our nation, I have conducted environmental grassroots projects like a environmental childrens camp and youth training in different places in Luzon as well as in metro Manila. With these projects we teach young individuals to practice proper waste segregation.
To the different leaders around the world, please do not underestimate the initiatives of young people in protecting the environment. Also, please implement laws regarding environmental protection. To the leaders of the prosperous countries, please be responsible enough to implement green economy in your country and help other nations do the same. To all the leaders, it's good to become prosperous in economic wealth but never destroy and sacrifice the environment to do so. Pedro Cunha Viva Hoje activist from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who is part of Jovens Universitários Rio+20
We are all one — one planet, one future.
All of us are in constant change, voluntarily and involuntarily, and should always seek the highest possible welfare of the individual, environment, and society. So we feel and act increasingly integrated and environmentally conscious.
My request is that all who are reading, especially decision makers, see the world and fully represent the voices of other living beings who can not express verbally such as the flora and fauna! Everything around you is a single, great living being. Feel alive and that living is great, and that it can get better every day and more integrated than ever before!
Richard Merritt Working for the environmental education fund Retrofit a Million. Graduated from Morehouse College with an international studies degree
As the IUCN World Conservation Congress is set to take place I find myself skeptical of what achievements will come out of it. This is just my frame of mind that years in the youth climate movement have lead me to.
Day in and day out youth are on the frontlines of combating climate change. In their own homes, communities, and schools across the world, youth are taking action to protect what's left of our precious earth. Which leads me to this blunt question for those leaders; why is it ok to witness the youth of the world sacrifice to protect the world they will soon inherit while you remain idle?
What will it take to motivate these leaders in setting aside personal interests to protect the world they exploit? The youth have pleaded with leaders to rise up and take action during every major environmental gathering only to be disappointed each time. These leaders more often than not act as followers and steer away from bold decision-making that will ensure a sustainable future and planet.
Global youth understand how dire the situation is and will not tolerate being marginalized in this movement to combat climate change. It is time that our efforts are met with the same commitment by those leaders we once looked up to.
So world leaders will you continue to follow or are you ready to finally lead? It's not a choice, it's your responsibility.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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