UN secretary-general credits youth movement for climate-action momentum

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2019 01:33 AM

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg appears at the Youth Climate Summit at the UN headquarters in Manhattan, New York Saturday. Carlo Allegri, Reuters

NEW YORK - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said it is largely because of the youth movement that world leaders are finally taking action against climate change. 

“When I started two years and something ago I must say I felt very very discouraged in relation to the perspectives of the climate action,” he told youth leaders such as Greta Thunberg at the UN Youth Climate Summit here. 

“We are already facing a climate emergency. We are seeing this multiplication of natural disasters becoming even more intense even more dramatic.”


Guterres pointed out how climate change has also become a factor in conflict and terrorism, in addition to contributing to the loss of biodiversity.

“There is a climate urgency. Things are getting worst. The worst forecast have been proven wrong not because they were too dramatic but because they were not enough dramatic in relation to reality,” he said.

On top of that, he said it was challenging to get countries to agree on climate action.

“But there is a change in momentum. And largely this changing momentum is because of your initiative,” he told Thunberg, her fellow climate activists and the hundreds of youth ambassadors from different countries.

Guterres said Thunberg’s lone protest outside the Swedish Parliament and other demonstrations around the world has helped push governments to act.

Thunberg, who was among the leaders of the New York climate strike on Friday that attracted 250,000 people, briefly spoke before Guterres and the delegates. 


“Yesterday millions of people across the globe marched and demanded green climate action, especially young people. We showed that we are united and we young people are unstoppable,” she said. 

Among the other climate activists who spoke was Bruno Rodriguez of Argentina. 

“Our world leaders have the obligation to make radical change, but change rarely takes place from the top down. It happens when millions of people demand change,” he pointed out.

Representing the Philippines is youth climate ambassador Karen Ibasco, a physicist who won the Miss Earth 2017 pageant.


Ibasco told ABS-CBN that she really wanted to see Thunberg.

“As young as she is, she is a huge inspiration to a lot of people,” she said, adding that she plans to intervene and share the concerns of Filipinos.

Also attending the Youth Climate Summit are UN Environment Program’s Young Champions of the Earth prize winner for Asia and the Pacific Louise Mabulo and UN Green Ticket winner Brex Arevalo