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Youth add their voice to debate on climate change

23 November 2015

Calls for action on climate change dominated discussions on day three of the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Malta during presentations from leading regional and international experts.

Deodat Maharaj, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, encouraged youth delegates to be an “integral part” of the solution on climate change, and to reflect on the commitments that they would be willing to make.

He said: “Despite bearing the least responsibility for accelerating climate change, young people will face its gravest consequences. Recognising the seriousness and urgency of the threat, an ambitious agreement in Paris is needed to ensure that current and future generations are spared from the harshest effects of climate change.”

The call for a sharper focus on climate change issues comes as international negotiations take place leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December.

Participants also heard interventions from Karuna Rana, co-founder of the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub, David Rupa of 350.org in Papua New Guinea, and Simone Borg, Malta’s Ambassador on Climate Change. Ms Rana presented the key recommendations from a report developed by young climate experts from across the Commonwealth in preparation for CHOGM and COP21.

Christina Jillian Keziah, a youth delegate from Papua New Guinea, made a passionate appeal to her colleagues to take the lead in addressing climate change, and received a standing ovation from the floor.

“We cannot wait on governments. We have to act now. Please support your brothers and sisters in the Pacific who are facing this very real threat each day. Climate change is real,” said Ms Keziah.

Other youth delegates added their voices to the call for urgent climate change action.

Cindy Chng, a youth delegate from Singapore said: “We should leverage this opportunity to put concerns about the environment and sustainable development at the forefront of leaders’ minds. We must also empower people from different societies to think and act creatively, by moving into different spaces in the green economy.”

Jean Paul Brice Affana, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network, urged fellow delegates: “We have to be inspirational. Inspiring a new generation is the only way we can achieve something. It is time to do research and inform ourselves – because we cannot be part of the solution if we do not know what the problem is.”

The theme of the Forum ( 21-25 November) is ‘Adding Global Value…#WhatNext?’ Youth delegates will explore the key issues facing their generation in order to produce policy recommendations and an action plan that will be presented to the Commonwealth Heads of Government.

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