On Earth Day 2020, I launched a special series of intergenerational blogs. Over the past ten weeks, we have shared stories of courage, hope, inspiration and challenge as young leaders in the climate movement have written as guest bloggers championed by, and in solidarity with, The Elders.
Earth Day was intended to be a day of mass climate marches and activism but COVID-19 has changed the world in unprecedented ways, moving activism to the digital sphere. However, the urgency of climate action has not diminished; quite the opposite. The pandemic has underscored the indispensability of collective, inclusive mobilisation in the face of existential threats.
It is vital that we listen to young and diverse voices when addressing the shared global challenges we all face. It is crucial also that we maintain the same sense of urgency around the issue of climate change in the months ahead, despite the postponement of climate summits such as COP 26.
As Kofi Annan always said, “you are never too young to lead, and never too old to learn”. I hope these blogs will inspire more young people to get involved in climate action and to take leadership, and will inspire more older people to listen, learn and take urgent action on the climate crisis.
My message for the young activists is: The Elders stand with you, and share your determined optimism that a better world is possible.
Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders
The Earth Day 2020 blog series
- Theo Cullen Mouze from Ireland, championed by Mary Robinson wrote about how important it is not to underestimate young people who campaign for climate change
- Ridhima Pandey from India, championed by Elder Emeritus Ela Bhatt, called for greater action from policy makers.
- Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, championed by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, blogged about the devastating impact of climate change, called for those at the frontlines of climate change to be better represented.
- The need to listen to frontline voices was echoed by Litokne Kabua from the Marshall Islands, championed by Hina Jilani.
- Brianna Fruean, a climate activist for Samoa, was championed by Ban Ki-moon, Brianna asked the international community to reflect on what kind of post-pandemic world they want to live in.
- Chinese activist Howey Ou, championed by Juan Manuel Santos, warned against inaction and disinterest
- Erin Fowler from Scotland, championed by Gro Harlem Brundtland, called on the international community to work together for change.
- One of the youngest activists featured, 12-year-old Adegbile Deborah Morayo from Nigeria, wrote eloquently in her blog that was championed by Desmond Tutu about her lived experience of environmental degradation.
- Medics David Imbago Jácome from Ecuador and Omnia El Omrani from Egypt, discussed the urgent intersection of public health and climate change. David was championed by Ricardo Lagos, and Omnia by Graça Machel.
- Colombian American Jamie Margolin, championed by Zeid Raad Al Hussein, and Indigenous Mexican Xiye Bastida, championed by Mary Robinson, both wrote powerful pieces on inequality within climate activism itself. Jamie called for the climate movement to unite behind the Black Lives Matter movement, and Xiye wrote movingly about the importance of recognising unique perspectives and listening to marginalised voices.