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Youth Activists Demand Urgent Climate Action at Davos

Greta Thunberg (Via ShutterStock)

Teenagers took the reins at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year, where Swedish activist Greta Thunberg headlined a TIME panel discussing youth-led sustainability efforts. Joining her were Salvador Gómez-Colón, 16, Autumn Peltier, 16, and Natasha Mwansa, 18, who collectively called for urgent action from global leaders to combat climate change.

The panel, titled “Forging a Sustainable Path Towards a Common Future,” showcased the pressing sustainability issues faced by each activist’s community and highlighted the broader need for immediate action by the global elites gathered in Davos.

Autumn Peltier, an advocate for clean water access in indigenous communities, expressed frustration with receiving awards without actionable support. “I don’t want your awards. If you’re going to award me, award me with helping me find solutions and award me with helping me make change,” she stated.

Similarly, journalist and activist Natasha Mwansa emphasized the necessity of youth collaboration with experienced leaders. She argued that while the older generation has experience, the youth bring fresh ideas, energy, and solutions to current and emerging problems. Salvador Gómez-Colón echoed this sentiment, highlighting the proactive stance of youth climate activists. “We’re not the future of the world, we’re the present. We’re acting now, we’re not waiting any longer,” he said.

Gómez-Colón, from Puerto Rico, pointed out the recent natural disasters affecting his region, illustrating the immediate impacts of climate change. Thunberg reiterated the threat climate change poses not only to the environment but also to the economy, citing a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She lamented the lack of progress since her 2018 school strikes, noting that global CO2 emissions have not decreased.

“In general, the science and the voice of the young people is not at the center of the conversation, and it needs to be,” Thunberg asserted. “Because this is about us and our future, and future generations, and of course those who are already being affected today.”

The panel concluded with a call to action for the global leaders at Davos to prioritize sustainability and take concrete steps to address the climate crisis, reinforcing the critical role of youth in driving change and shaping a sustainable future.

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