National Children's Day Climate Parliament Held
The first ever and historic
National Inclusive Children's Climate Parliament helped young children to pose
questions to policy makers and leaders about what is being done to reduce the
impact of climate change and mitigate it.
It was organised by UNICEF in partnership with NINEISMINE. Mr M Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India stressed on the need to take urgent and quick action to prevent climate change. He said we merely have 10 to 12 years to influence the course of climate change before its adverse impact become irreversible so that future generations can lead healthy lives.
Manisha (17), child Vice-President of the National Inclusive Children’s Parliament (NICP), strongly emphasised that though children may not be voters, their voices can be stronger than the votes of adults, and, hence, it was necessary for children to speak out now in order to secure their future. She further stressed on the importance of raising one’s voice for this important cause: “’Nothing about us children, without us children’. In other words, the need for children to engage actively in policy making is real; we need to proactive citizens of today (and not just the future).”
The Climate Warrior movie, presented by UNICEF, highlighted the contribution of young climate warriors towards the conservation of the environment.
The children of the NINEISMINE campaign are the key organisers of the NICP that seeks the empowerment of children in local neighbourhood circles; these children meet on a weekly basis to address issues related to child rights and earth rights. Aged between 10 to 17 years, spread across the length and breadth of the country, the children engage actively for the cause of child and earth rights, ensuring positive and sustainable action by one and all. Young advocates Binod Debbarma (Ferrando Tripura), Tamiltulasi (DNSST, Tamil Nadu), Sakshi and Lakshya (Anugyalaya, West Bengal), Ravi (Prabhatara, Delhi), and Rimjhim (Dibyanga Natya Bidyalaya, Assam) shared their stories and demands. These Child Ministers have been working on climate action and have engaged with various stakeholders, on multiple platforms, with the belief that ‘there can be no child-rights without earth rights’.
These child parliamentarians have engaged with over 50,000 young advocates in the run-up processes to help their peers understand the science of climate change. The National Inclusive Children’s Parliament also met in the previous week to prioritize the recommendations and inputs received through these engagements and, in particular, to the preceding Inclusive National General Assembly with 100s of children across the country. They had genuine consultations with their friends from across the country, including children from the most vulnerable sections of India, who crossed great hurdles to overcome various challenges of poverty and digital exclusion during this COVID pandemic.
Following this, the children presented their personal stories on the impact of climate change. Children from Assam used the soil of the Brahmaputra to present their commitments to reduce, reuse and recycle while strongly emphasizing the need to refuse. The child parliamentarians presented their Climate Charter of Demands to the law makers at the end of each of their stories related to the impact of climate change on their lives.
The demands included: green public transportation options, clean environments and access to safe hygiene services, ban on single use plastics, funding and prioritization of the afforestation effort, greater awareness in schools and communities, investing in research to study the intersection of climate change and public health in India, stronger enforcement by local governance bodies on limiting pollution and bridging the digital divide to ensure equal opportunity for education and towards building a climate movement.
In conclusion, Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, Chief -- UNICEF, India thanked all the dignitaries present at the session. She closed the webinar by stating that, “We should listen to children closely. We cannot talk about children, without them. They must be involved in dialogue. Together we can harness science, evidence, and build future better”. Climate action should now not only be limited to a few strategies but this climate change pandemic should now be declared as a climate emergency. They stand strongly to protect their Mother Earth and her rights”, added Ms Haque.