This was the message delivered by Fiji’s Ambassador in Belgium and former COP23 envoy to the UNFCCC, Ambassador Deo Saran, at the “Young and Futurations Day, a side event at COP24 in Warsaw, Poland.

Continuing with the tradition from the last 5-6 years, this youth and children thematic day encompass various events and activities that focuses on youth and climate actions. Organised by various youth organisations, this event provides an avenue to not only showcase youth-focussed activities and raise the profile of youth participation at COP, but also bring together various stakeholders on brainstorming for ways on how such a participation can be enhanced.

Speaking to youth delegates from around the world, Ambassador Saran praised them for their commitment to achieving climate ambition and reminded them on the importance of maintaining momentum.

“It’s always a pleasure to join you and be part of your program. And once again, I’m filled with renewed sense of optimism and a renewed sense of pride. To be here and to witness how much passion and much energy you all dedicate yourself in this great struggle.

And following the release of the recent IPCC report, I have much faith that the work that you do with the commitment that comes along with it, should serve as great optimism for us all. I say ‘us’ because in a couple of years time, we will no longer be here to carry on this work. And even now, your own dedication to this process gives us optimism and, more importantly, gives us hope that we will achieve our target to limit the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level and pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5 degrees. “

In his remarks, Ambassador Saran reminded the youth delegates, many of whom are from Small Island States including Fiji, on the importance of the Talanoa Dialogue and the need to maintain momentum.

Friends, I’m also proud that in this room are young climate warriors from small islands states – and from my part of the world. I’m proud that you are putting a special emphasis on ensuring that the voices of our young people are heard.

Unfortunately, the struggle ahead will never be easy – and any struggle never really is. I ask you all to focus your complete attention on what you can do – individually and collectively – to assist your own nations, our region and the world to confront this challenge head on. To tell the stories that need to be told. To generate the action that needs to be taken.

Ambassador Saran also used the occasion to pay tribute to the female youth delegates at this event who according to him, also represent the vulnerable women affected by climate change.

“I am also very proud to look around the room and see many young women here today. Each of you, represent the voices of millions of vulnerable young women and children. Women and girls are both critically vulnerable to some of the worst effects of climate change and vital to an effective response.

Fiji acknowledges that if the world is to have any hope of achieving our collective goal of limiting the average global temperature to 1.5 degrees, women must be involved.

The Gender Action Plan encourages all Parties to nominate a national gender focal point for their country. This nominated person must ensure that the Gender Action Plan and gender equality and inclusiveness are kept at the forefront of your national initiatives and policies.”

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