A glimpse into the UNECOSOC Youth Forum
Last week, youth leaders converged on New York City for the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum. Among these was 26-year-old Rebecca Freitag, the official German Youth Delegate to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Freitag has been striking for climate since Germany’s first climate strikes in Berlin last fall. “A whole generation is rising, finally making their voices heard on the streets,” she says. “But this hasn’t arrived enough in the United Nations yet.”
One of the major victories of continued pressure from weekly climate strikes across the globe was UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ recognition on the day of the March 15th global climate strikes, that the UN was not doing ample work to protect the planet. “My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change,” he said. He referred to the Paris Agreement as “visionary” but “meaningless without ambitious action,” and called on global citizens to take part in the UN’s emergency climate summit, to take place in September.
In New York, Freitag, along with U.S. Youth Climate Strike co-founder Alexandria Villaseñor, and other activists with Extinction Rebellion responded to Secretary-General Gueterres’ call on youth activists to “keep up the pressure” by putting plans in motion for the Climate and Sustainable Development Goal Summit set to take place in New York this fall. “Protesting is a huge privilege in Europe and we should definitely make use of it and raise our voices in solidarity also for those in other parts of the world,” she says.
Watch the opening remarks by honorary guest Yolanda Joab, the Founder and Executive Director of Island Promoting Resilience through Involvement, Development and Education (PRIDE).