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Inspirational figures in the climate change movement

December 7, 2010

Today, the High Level Segment of COP16 opened with a star-studded list of speakers including Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and presidents of various countries including Mexico and the COP president, as well as Christiana Figueres. To a United Nations newbie like me, seeing these ‘celebrities’ was absolutely astounding.

I feel that being a youth sometimes means that you are wowed by the big names (did I mention I met Yvo De Boer today and got his namecard?!) and daunted by them. I’m still pleasantly tickled by having Christiana Figueres sit behind me during one of the informal KP meetings last week.

And, what’s wrong with that?

I’m just happy that there are youths who are like me who have a genuine interest in the work of the various policy-makers and civil servants who are in the government delegations, or part of the United Nations, or voices of civil society’s various aspects.

However, some youths, especially the more experienced ones, have come to be more discerning of these leaders they initially looked up to. Over time, they learn to spot the mistakes that they have made, or possible options they could have done instead, and learn to formulate their own opinions and initiate decisions and projects built upon that knowledge on a smaller scale.

To me, the green movement has the power to change mindsets. Youths who have leaders they look up to will be inspired to do good and push for climate justice.

In an interview with Yvo de Boer this morning at a youth dialogue, he suggested that children should be the ones to share their stories with negotiators and inspire them in their work. His words of inspiration to youths was, “Just keep fighting and pushing on.”

What youths need to tell them is exactly the same. “Negotiators, keep fighting and pushing on. We are willing to work with you, but will you?”

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