On Saturday, 21 September, one day after tens of thousands of grassroots climate action advocates– many of them students — organized a global call to action, the UN Youth Climate Summit amplified the voices of young activists on the largest of diplomatic stages. The Summit’s standard-bearer, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, was joined by a number of young Fijians. Today, those young Fijians were thanked for their activism in-person by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at the Fijian Mission to the United Nations in Midtown Manhattan.
PM Bainimarama, joined by various ministers and members of the Fijian delegation who are attending this week’s Climate Action Summit and, later, the UN General Assembly, gave his heartfelt thanks to the young leaders, saying that they represented the very best of Fiji, and in a time of great uncertainty, shone bright as a beacon of hope for the future of both the nation and the planet.
Fiji’s young climate champions in New York included Timoci Naulusala, who rose to prominence as a leading voice in combatting the climate crisis during Fiji’s presidency of COP23. Naulusala was joined by: Tyler Rae Chung, a student in marine studies at USP; Komal Karishma Kumar, who represented the youth-led Alliance for Future Generations – Fiji; Ann Mary Raduva, an environmentalist and legal activist who attends Adi Cokabau School; Maanvick Gounder, a volunteer at Project Survival Pacific who attends Penanag Sangam High School; and Genevieve Jiva, coordinator at the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network.
“Your voices and your leadership – as young people – are some of the most powerful forces we wield in demanding action from the rest of the world. The struggle for decisive climate action will last for generations, and it is the sake of your future we give our energy to this fight. I see your passion and I share your purpose. Vinaka for speaking truth to your beliefs. I thank God that Fiji’s future is in such good hands,” said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister, in his opening intervention at the UNSG’s Climate Action Summit, gave Fiji’s full commitment to “unite behind the science” of climate change, a call demanded from global leaders by the world’s youth. He vowed to carry their momentum –– and continue his fight for all young people in Fiji –– throughout the week of high-level meetings and speaking engagements with heads of government from around the globe.