Youth engagement in climate justice offers hope

Youth and climate justice was featured in two discussions at the recent ACT Assembly 2021. Hope was central to both. 

An  intergenerational panel on youth and climate justice took place early in the Assembly. A few days later, two Latin American ACT members, Marcelo Leites of Uruguay and Fernanda Zuniga of Chile, reviewed the key points of this discussion. Both Marcelo and Fernanda are themselves young people who have been involved for many years in organising other young people in their countries, Marcelo with the World Student Christian Movement and Fernanda with the Lutheran Church in Chile.  

The key points they noted were: the importance of Christian unity in climate action; developing youth’s capacity to lead and to engage in negotiations; the urgency of action given the climate crisis; and the hope offered by youth involvement to the Alliance and the world. Marcelo noted two additional points that had emerged in the intergenerational discussion: that “all change is possible if we have hope” and that “there is no climate justice without social and economic justice.”  

Fernanda focussed on the call to promote climate action based on shared Christian values. She added that education is not just a tool to empower young people to act on climate, but to empower them to become decision-makers in negotiations and policy. And their lived experience is important. Youth should “not only be telling others’ stories about loss and damage, motivation, gender,” said Fernanda, but also “sharing their own experiences.” 

“We need a new climate and new relationships between people, nature and men and women,” concluded Marcelo. “We know women and children are the most affected by climate change.” 

Fernanda and Marcelo’s dialogue, below, was recorded in Spanish with English subtitles.