Youth in climate action as world marks peace day


A blue sky above the Belgian coast, blue EU and UN flags flying, and none other than the blue Smurfs in their homeland, a perfect setting for a gathering of around 2000 students on a mission to save the blue planet. This was just one of the first actions taking place in the margins of the #EUBeachCleanUp – a global campaign for climate, happening on or around 21 September, World Coastal Cleanup Day. This day also marks the International Day of Peace, and also happens to be the day when in New York the UN Youth Climate Summit brings together young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers to showcase climate solutions and engage with global leaders on this defining issue of our time. Adolescents and youths from different walks of life…. together with international organisations and global partners… all with one goal: joining forces in this global fight… a peaceful fight… committed to combatting climate change!

"This year, the International Day of Peace's focus is on combatting climate change as a key to protecting and promoting peace throughout the world. For more than a decade, the EU has been working to raise awareness and tackle the inter-connection between climate, peace and security. Today, especially as young people all around the world are mobilising in their call to save our planet, the time for action is more pressing than ever," EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said in a statement to mark this occasion.

Besides the fact that the EU, UN and the Smurfs have the colour blue in common, "we all promote peace" echoed Caroline Petit, Deputy Director at UN Regional Information Centre. Caroline Petit was speaking in Ostende during a beach clean action by Belgian students on 17 September. While this event happened in the margins of the #EUBeachCleanUp campaign, Petit explained that for this "wave of plastic hunters," as she referred to them, this beach clean with the Smurfs was not just one day of fun but it was "a smart thing to do" as this event kicked off the beginning of an ocean and environment protection project. "They will work together with the teachers for six months to understand marine litter, pollution, and understand how we can protect the ocean and why it is essential for the planet and the environment," she explained. "If we don’t stop the way we consume by 2050, we will have more plastic than fish and to that, we say no,” she concluded.

©ISITAPLANE, ©UNRIC Brussels, ©Peyo, ©EU


The 2019 global #EUBeachCleanUp campaign is well underway and over 80 countries are expected to take part in this climate action, including landlocked countries cleaning lakes and riverbeds. Through its worldwide network of EU Delegations as well as the Representations in EU member states, the EU reaches out to citizens all over the world, creating awareness about the issue of plastic pollution and marine litter, encouraging people from a young age to take care of our blue planet. This is in line with the EU’s response to the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Meanwhile in New York, young people from around the world convene at the UN Youth Climate Summit - an action oriented, intergenerational, and inclusive summit, with equal representation of young leaders from all walks of life, presenting climate solutions and engaging with global leaders on the pressing challenge of today to combat climate change. This historic event is part of a weekend of events leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on Monday, September 23, in the margins of the UN General Assembly.

With the UN Climate Action Summit we also see the start of the autumn edition of Climate Diplomacy Weeks 2019, during which EU Member States and EU Delegations across the world hold various events to encourage dialogue and cooperation on climate change, showcase success stories and inspire further action. Climate Diplomacy Weeks are also centered around youth this year.

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