Eye on the Amazon

Our Generation Is the World's Voice for Climate Action

Photo credit: Mychaylo Prystupa, NationalObserver.com

"We are nature. And we try to live in a way that does not harm nature because we see earth as our mother. So, we care for her, we respect her and we have to protect her"Nina Gualinga, Kichwa youth activist

Not many moons ago, indigenous people had the chance to be heard on a global level about the importance of preserving our planet in order to keep the balance between nature and humanity. For the first time, many indigenous people from across the globe made it to the climate negotiations and demanded to be heard. It is usually the most impoverished and indigenous communities who suffer first-hand the consequences of climate change and for that reason alone we should be allowed inside the actual negotiations.

At the end of the day, who decides our future and the future of the next generations? There is clearly a big distance between the decision-makers and the people who have to live with the consequences of climate change. Personally, I think the Paris accord underscores that these "high" level U.N mechanisms to establish limits on carbon emissions have failed to do justice to those most affected by – and least responsible for – climate change, nor do they abide by science that tells us we must do more. However, the COP21 conference and similar gatherings are providing a forum for youth, Indigenous Peoples, and other civil society movements long ignored to finally have a voice for climate sanity.

I was among the Indigenous People from the Amazon Rainforest who made it to the COP21 climate summit in Paris. I felt it was my duty to be the voice of those who could not attend. As Maria Leusa, leader from Brazil's Munduruku people said, "We've come to the COP to bring international visibility and gather support for our struggle for our rights, our lands, and our rivers". Besides the fact that legally-binding references to indigenous rights and human rights were removed from operational text of the Paris Accord, it certainly was empowering to see Indigenous People from the Arctic to the Amazon coming together demanding that real climate action to be taken now.

We all should know that climate change is not only the struggle of indigenous Peoples. This is the struggle of the planet: the struggle of students; the struggle of the rich and the poor; ultimately the struggle of all people who inhabit this planet.

Our generation is the world's voice for climate action. We can no longer deny climate change, a few more pennies today cannot give us back our planet. It is not really too late but unless we act now, there will be no planet to fight for. Our generation is facing what is happening to the planet and to the people directly impacted by fossil fuel extraction. We must stop the damaging extraction of natural resources within our territories and should keep all fossil fuels in the ground.

The Paris agreement has demonstrated that heads of state are unwilling to make the tough commitments we need for a healthy and just planet. We are the ones who must take action to address climate change, push our elected leaders for more ambitious accords, and comply with the basic agreements that came out of Paris. It is about time for our generation to unite, defend and mobilize for our planet, making sure promises are kept. Join our campaign to Keep Fossil Fuels in the ground, let's be part of a real Climate Justice Movement!

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