NEW YORK, 23 September 2019 - "Welcome, everyone, to UNICEF House — a place that belongs, first and foremost, to the children of the world.
"In that spirit, tonight we’ll hear from 16 children and young people, who have joined together. They’re demanding their right to be protected from the effects of climate change.
"And they are using an important tool to do it: the Convention on the Rights of the Child, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
"Adopted in 1989, it went on to become the most widely ratified human rights treaty ever.
"The Convention did more than establish children’s rights.
"It gave them a mechanism to lodge complaints when their rights weren’t being met. To make their voices heard. And to demand action.
"Today, the 16 young petitioners here today are using this tool, and making an official complaint. It’s a landmark moment for child rights.
"Now — this is an official process. I — and the organization I represent, UNICEF, will stay completely neutral on that complaint.
"I will not speak for children. After all — they are the experts in their own lives. Tonight, they’ll share with us their personal experiences about growing up on a planet with a climate that is changing beyond recognition.
"But I am not neutral about children’s rights.
"Just this week, I published an open letter to the world’s children, setting out my hopes, and my fears, for this next generation. And how the global community must come together to address these challenges for our youngest citizens. How we must stand up for their rights.
"Including their right to a healthy environment. There is no doubt that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis. It affects their health. Their neighbourhoods. The food they eat. The air they breathe. Every aspect of their futures.
"Yet I still believe there is every reason for hope. The children here today, and millions of others around the world are leading the way, taking action and showing that change is possible.
"By standing up for what they believe in. By convincing others to join their cause.
"By speaking out and demanding change.
"That’s what this event is all about.
"So — enough from me. And over to them."
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