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Change is Coming for Youth-led Ocean Activism

Youth ocean activists say that the current pandemic “has provided peace for the world’s oceans,” because turtles that usually wait for the dark to come to the shore are now coming out of the water in the daytime because humans are in lockdown.

UNITED NATIONS, May 15 2020 (IPS) - The youth’s role in environmental action remains crucial and leaders must ensure that they are given proper access under current circumstances to carry out that work, activists said at a online meeting held this week. 

The webinar was part of the “Keeping the Momentum for Ocean Action” organised by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the U.N. Non-Governmental Liaison Service, the U.N. Major Group for Children and Youth, and Sustainable Ocean Alliance

It featured the voices of youths, celebrities and other leaders in the U.N. working on the issues of environment and ocean sustainability. 

“We need to have a clear and accessible voice in saying what we are going to do,” Luke Mullen, actor, filmmaker and environmentalist, said at the webinar.One of the best ways to do that is through social media and through spreading awareness on sites. We need to have this concise, compelling argument on why our individual action matters.” 

A representative from Youth Voices for Climate Action in India, condemned the human greed that has led to disturbance of marine life. 

“This is not about the survival of the fittest or the richest, it’s about how we’re treating our oceans,” he said. “After a decade in India, Ganga river water is suitable for drinking. That water [has been] considered holy since ages.”

He added that the current pandemic “has provided peace for the world’s oceans,” because turtles that usually wait for the dark to come to the shore are now coming out of the water in the daytime because humans are in lockdown.

Meanwhile, some others highlighted the importance of ensuring that the youth is kept engaged in action, and their voices are continued to be featured on global platforms.

“People need to feel they’re actively doing something for the planet. This can be a very difficult sense of achievement to make when you’re stuck at home,” Eimear Manning, from the All Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors, said at the webinar.

Manning said one way to ensure higher youth participation is by having discussions about events that can be held online and to use innovative and creative methods to keep the youth engaged. 

“Everything is becoming a webinar now. Young people are being invited to webinar after webinar —  you need to take a fresh look at engaging activities,” she said, and urged leaders to consider publishing work by the youth, and sharing their work at global events instead of addressing them only for events focused on the youth. 

“Young people will become more involved when they see other people’s involvement in a project,” she said. 

Ambassador Peter Thomson, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, welcomed the comments from the activists and echoed Manning’s suggestion that there are innovative ways in which climate activism can be done online. 

“I am absolutely convinced that we are on the cusp of a real paradigm shift in this world,” he said. “Change is coming. Young people, it’s your future. You [have] got to grab it, but you also got to create it.”

Here are some glimpses of ocean sustainability over the years.

 


Youth oceans conference by Inter Press Service

 
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