Thank you, Voices of Future Generations Arabia, for this brilliant opportunity. In this blog, I would like to argue in favour of empowering children’s voices and quality education - SDG 4 & SDG 17, as I did in May during a symposium with over 1000 online participants.
My name is Nico, I am 11 and go to Kings College School in Cambridge. I am a UN Child Ambassador for the SDGs, and as part of this commitment I also edit an online blog - Nico’s Natural World - with over 9000 impressions, and hundreds of followers. Please come and visit it some time.
It is time that we all stand up for our children’s rights - as reflected in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), especially Articles 24 and 29 that promise us a healthy environment and education about nature, and also Articles 12 to 13 that guarantee us a voice in decisions that concern us.
Our future, and the futures of all species on Earth, concern us! They really do!
I might be only a small child, but I know that advancing the world’s SDGs, especially SDG 13 on Climate Action and SDG 15 to Protect Life on Land, makes the difference between a terrible global nightmare, and the future we want.
Even as our whole world is locked in frightening quarantines and curfews from the global COVID-19 pandemic, we can and must still speak out for our Earth, and for future generations of all species.
Climate change and biodiversity loss are real, dangerous and urgent.
As children, we are trying very hard to be heard, locally and globally, to stop the suffering and losses from getting even worse.
Even though we cannot vote, as children we already face the consequences of terrible climate change worldwide, including new viruses emerging, and old diseases returning, with impacts on our health and on the safely of everyone we love.
And we will face far, far worse in the future.
Currently, some decision-makers are doing the exact opposite,
backing up failing aviation and oil industries, which are causing the problem!
This is horribly unfair - it is a violation of climate justice!
The CRC promises us a healthy environment and this right means that willful destruction of natural habitats, without any regard for the plants and animals, nor for all future generations… just needs to stop.
We live in a climate emergency, and it will get worse if we can’t all work together, rather than re-starting all the harmful practices, and calling it recovery!
We also live in a biodiversity emergency, with thousands of species already lost, and many more at risk of going extinct forever—unless we all help to protect nature recovery when we plan economic recovery!
We must make sure our leaders tackle the climate and biodiversity crises with the same strength and unity they have shown us with the novel coronavirus pandemic, instead of ignoring it until everything is just too late!
If we want to make a difference, we must scale up our understanding, our education and our voices!
We need new guardian laws, institutions and networks.
The world after the COVID-19 pandemic needs to take children’s fears and interests much more seriously.
I am pleading for every single leader, including everyone reading online, to help us find new ways to stop the urgent threats of climate change and biodiversity loss, just as you promised in the SDGs.
Our rights are being directly infringed by current policies, laws and decisions – locally, nationally and internationally.
Even the smallest child CAN make a BIG difference, towards a more sustainable world for us all.
Voice of Nico Roman
Nico Roman (11), UN Child Ambassador for the SDGs, Voices of Future Generations Children’s Rights Initiative; Co-Chair, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council & YR6 Student, King’s College School (Cambridge)