The afternoon of the UN Youth Climate Summit featured a “Town Hall” session, during which a panel of world leaders answer direct questions from young people. Obviously, this was the moment many young activists were waiting for; a chance to ask questions and get straight answers in understandable language.
During the session, Swetha Saseedhar, an NYC-based activist, broke out in chant after challenging the whole purpose of the Youth Summit. She started by asking:
“Dear world leaders, I ask you.. What is the purpose of this Youth Summit if two days from now you are letting fossil fuel corporations and CEO’s of corporations take the stage along with member nations and allowing them to influence climate policy when they are the ones that created this crisis?” and added “You claim you want to listen to youth’s solutions but this feels more like a photo-op”.
Swetha stood up from her seat and was joined by her fellow colleagues in chanting:
“The emergency is now; time to kick polluters out!”
This is what happens when you invite young activists to the UN. Young people are trained to think critically and to speak up when their bullshit-meter goes off. It is difficult to trust when life is governed by a decision-making system that seems inherently outdated, favouring corporations that are part of the problem rather than the solution.
The complete UN Youth Climate Summit is available to watch on Youtube. Fast forward to 2:08:30 to watch Swetha pose her question and bring activism into the UN.