At a glance: Denmark

Copenhagen Children’s Climate Forum declares: the time to fight climate change is now

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© UNICEF/2009/Ricardo Pires
Youth delegates hold up a copy of their finalized Declaration today in Copenhagen, during the closing of the Children's Climate Forum.

By Ricardo Pires

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 4 December 2009 - After a week of intensive work and debate, about 160 young people from all over the globe finalized a Declaration today in Copenhagen, committing to personal changes in their own lives and demanding that governments worldwide take actions to protect our planet from the impacts of climate change.

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The document was presented to the President of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15), Connie Hedegaard, during the closing ceremony of the Children’s Climate Forum, at Copenhagen’s City Hall. Ms. Hedegaard is now expected to take the Declaration to world leaders at the COP15, starting next Monday, 7 December.

“It’s so good that young people from the whole world are telling us – the politicians – that the time for action is now,” Ms. Hedergaard said.

Ms. Hedergaard also addressed the young delegates, emphatically supporting the children’s statement that the time for talk is over: “You must tell the politicians that they cannot leave Copenhagen empty-handed two weeks from now. Because you, the citizens – the new generation – demand us to take action now,” she said.

Declaration’s recommendations

The youth delegate’s Declaration outlines the main concerns and recommendations shared by all climate ambassadors, stressing how climate change has threatened their lives and that of their families.

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© UNICEF/2009/Ricardo Pires
President of COP 15 Connie Hedegaard speaks at the closing of the Children's Climate Forum.

“We, the youth delegates from 44 countries, attending the Children’s Climate Forum 2009, will not sit back and watch. We already face the effects of climate change. Our communities are deprived of clean drinking water, denied access to education and vulnerable to disease every time it floods. Our future is at risk and we demand that something be done. The time for talk is over. Now, we hold you accountable for your commitments,” the Declaration states in its first paragraph.

The Declaration was finalized after a long week of consultations between the delegations, study, and training focusing on local activities that climate ambassadors can take back to their home countries.

The main recommendations are that industrialized countries ramp up spending on adaptation; that cities be well planned and sustainable; that safety standards, regulations and emergency protocols be established to prepare for climate induced disasters; that better water conservation be practised; that education on sea level rise and flooding and biodiversity-related projects be provided. 

A commitment to action

The closing ceremony was followed by the Danish band Alien Beat Club performing the Children’s Climate Forum anthem ‘It’s My World’. The song was written especially for the Forum by Danish hit-maker Remee.

“After this week together, I learned that we are not alone,” said 15-year-old Mohamed Axam Maumoon, a climate ambassador from the Maldives. “Countries and places as far away from each other and as different as the Maldives, India and the UK got together to share the same concerns and the same intention to change things.”

Later in the evening, the young delegates were officially named Climate Ambassadors, formalizing a one-year commitment embodied in their Declaration. To better implement their promises, the young people have formed a social network so they can share their experiences and difficulties as they take forward what they have learned in Copenhagen.

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© UNICEF/2009/Ricardo Pires
A youth participant puts her own message about climate change on display during the closing ceremony of the Children’s Climate Forum.

“We have finalized this declaration and have also finished a Youth Action Plan, which we will take to our homes and start implementing,” said 16-year-old Bripra Biswambhara Nil, from India. “This is just the first step. The beginning of something that will change all of our lives in a near future.”

A battle declared on climate change

The final paragraph of the Declaration is a perfect summary of what happened in the last seven days in Copenhagen:

“The battle against climate change is upon all of us. We are ready to act and we invite you to join us. Climate change is affecting our lives, our families and our future,” the document states. “We must act immediately and we are ready to fulfil our commitments. We are prepared to give all we have as long as there is the possibility of saving our planet.”

“We expect the same courage from you,” the declaration concludes.


 

 

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4 December 2009: UNICEF correspondent Natacha Ikoli reports on the closing ceremony of the 2009 Children's Climate Forum in Copenhagen. Video shot by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel.
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