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Fighting Climate Change A Defining Factor For Youths

“You were born into a world in which storms batter our shores with intensity that, just a few decades ago, would have been unimaginable. You were born into a world in which entire ecosystems, from Pacific reefs to Amazonian rainforests, may not last beyond your own time on this planet.”

These words silenced more than 200 youths from across Fiji as Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama addressed them while opening the first ever National Youth Climate Action Summit at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Tuesday.

“To me, your age doesn’t discredit you –– in fact, the opposite is true. For you, saving our climate isn’t some passing phase or extra-curricular activity –– it is the defining cause of your generation.
Because you know that the stakes couldn’t be higher: You are the generation that, due to no fault of your own, has inherited a climate emergency,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Mr Bainimarama said youths of today are born into a world in which words and phrases like “climate refugees” and “village relocation” –– concepts that were unheard of when at their age –– are tragically common points of discussion in Summits like this one.

“But where I find great frustration in my generation, I find great hope in yours.”

“To me, your age doesn’t discredit you –– in fact, the opposite is true. For you, saving our climate isn’t some passing phase or extra-curricular activity –– it is the defining cause of your generation,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Act Later”, the mantra of politicians for far too long, is no longer being tolerated –– especially among the world’s young people. You know that we must act now- for every moment of inaction is a moment the world can’t get back.”


Mr Bainimarama reminded youths that Fiji is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and that we are not a major emitter.

“Fiji contributes around point zero, zero six percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. But that does not make us too small to make a difference. No nation is. And we have a ground-breaking climate change Bill in the consultation process that will keep us accountable to our net-zero ambition.”

I urge you to read that Bill, it is a development defining piece of legislation. And we are also doing the hard work of adapting to climate impacts, investing in resilient infrastructure, relocating vulnerable communities, and harnessing nature to build powerful buffers between Fijians and the rising seas.

He added that by acting now the nation is setting an example we hope the entire world will follow.

“And by acting now, each of you – the young hearts and minds in this room – will drive action in your homes and classrooms, in your communities, in all of Fiji, in the Pacific region, and the world over.”


Mr Bainimarama told the youths their passion is precisely what the world needs and their activism and ideas will be what finds solutions to the problems that those before them have created.

He added the two-day summit is a vital opportunity for young Fijians to set an example for the world, showing they are not just vulnerable bystanders or helpless onlookers.

“When it comes to protecting our planet, you are agents of real change.
 As you work tirelessly to advance the global climate action agenda, and as you demand that Leaders act now, I –– and the world –– will be watching,” Mr Bainimarama said.


According to the United Nations World Youth Report: Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development today there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population.

The report states the active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies by the target date, and to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration.

The size of the youth population matters greatly in the context of sustainable development. The age structure of a population and the relative size of the youth cohort are important because they serve as determining factors in the growth of the labour force and pressures on the economy in terms of job creation.

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