My name is Brigid o Sullivan. I am 16 years old and I travelled approximately 1500 kilometres from a small hill in one of the most rural parts of Ireland and I’m not embarrassed to admit it was my first time on a plane. I am here to speak on behalf of children everywhere about climate change. 18s
I could not be more grateful to have this opportunity to speak about the most pressing issue of our time. It is not a responsibility I take lightly. Across the globe every single person is being affected by climate change and children are no exception to that. Children in fact are in the worst position; we are being affected by it now and will continue to be affected by it for our entire future. The action the world takes now however, will decide how detrimental an effect climate change will have on our futures.
I am not suggesting we leave this grave responsibility solely on the shoulders of the policy makers, the governments, the NGOs; in basic words the grown-ups.
We children are some of the most passionate, the most motivated, the most dedicated, just like you. We have innovation, creativity and out of the box thinking at our fingertips. We are an almost untapped resource in the fight against climate change, and we have the greatest inspiration: our future.
We have already proven we are more than capable. Take for example, 3 16 year old girls who live not too far away from me. They won the Google Global Science Fair in 2014 by discovering a bacteria that halves the germination time of cereal seeds. Why is this important you may ask. The germination time is when seeds are most at risk from threats like drought, floods, frosts. By decreasing the time when crops are most vulnerable, more crops can be produced and more people can be fed thus alleviating the potential for food insecurity in the future, which is one of the major consequences of climate change. They did this in their pyjamas using the scientific method, their enthusiasm, and their ambition. The girls have not stopped there. They have continued the momentum from this project by speaking out about it, encouraging young people everywhere to do similar. We need more support for young people to be changemakers like this.
While so many of us are active, educated, and are doing so much in the fight against climate change, it cannot be ignored that so many of my generation will never get the same opportunities.
So many are displaced from their homes, or are refugees. Their basic rights as children such as right to education are not being protected.
Some of the reasons behind this displacement is due to climate change. Extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, and other consequences are affecting the most disadvantaged countries the most.
Their plight cannot be ignored and must be a key part of the solution to end climate change. My generation cannot move into the future with a mindset to live on a sustainable planet if there is still a massive human rights crisis to add to an already big enough one; climate change. And it does not strike me as fair or just that i was afforded the opportunity to travel 1500km to speak in front of all of you, when someone my age, somewhere is travelling the same distance, more, for basic human rights.
And we need solutions, and we need them now, We children do not claim to know all the answers, but we can match our passion dedication innovation and all these other buzz words to yours. We can partner with you in meaningful ways to accomplish great things.
Whether it is consulting us on matter of policy, or if it is funding our ideas that become part of the end solution, we need your help. More than your help, we need your respect and everything you bring to the table, so we can have a seat at it.
We need support systems. I would not be speaking here today if it weren’t for UNICEF. Scientific minds wouldn’t get a good starting chance, if it weren’t for competitions that award innovation or even a schooling system that affords them the chance to reach their potential. Activism becomes that bit easier if you strengthen the youth organisations that serve to empower and facilitate the ideas of children across the globe.
My generation are already the most connected generation. However we need these supports to connect us so we can collaborate and use our ideas for the better, for a better future.
Glacaim leis nach dtarlóidh sé seo thar oíche ach “de réir a chéile a thógtar na cáisleáin. Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghábháil libh as éisteacht shibhialta a thabhairt dom.