Youth and student activists from every continent have been taking part in demonstrations and meetings to demand the rights of every child.
The 100 Million delegation in New York for the UNGA this week is as diverse as it is strong. We have activists from the All-Africa Students' Union, European Students' Union, Organising Bureau of Secondary School Unions, the Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education, Zimbabwe National Students' Union, Bachpan Bachao Andolan in India and the 100 Million National Youth Planning Group from the US.
On Friday 20th the delegation joined the Youth Climate Strike, marching shoulder to shoulder with over 250,000 others, demanding climate justice on the streets of New York, and symbolically with millions more across the world. As world leaders gather here to deliver yet more promises, we were proud and honoured to demand action instead. Children are not responsible for the mass destruction our earth faces, yet they stand to be the most affected by its devastating consequences, especially those living in the poorest countries. Our delegations’ placards spoke for themselves about the necessity of climate justice to sustain both people and planet.
On Saturday we came together, inspired by the protest and angry at the lack of similiar urgency demonstrated by world leaders, to create our own newspaper headlines that we hope to see in 2030. Current predictions show that we are failing to meet most of the Sustainable Development Goa;s, in some cases even moving backwards. As part of our mission to make as much noise as possible about this during UNGA week, we prepared by imagining the world we want to see instead.
The overall message in all our 2030 headlines was progress is possible, but we must act together and act now to get there. Later we took a radical history tour of the city to remind us that whether in their own countries or in New York City, achieving justice is dependent not only on decisions made at a governmental or international level, but on people rising as one to demand change.
With this power of radical history in our minds we joined the Major Group on Children and Young People’s pre-UNGA ‘Youth Blast’, together with other youth representatives attending UNGA. Together we learnt about the SDG process so far, the role, or lack of, young people in discussions, and the influencing opportunities the week ahead holds. Being part of, and helping to ensure a strong youth voice is heard by those with political power this week is critical. As half the world, young people deserve a seat at the table, our future depends on it.