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Youth summit urges action on climate change

BANGKOK -- Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and youth delegates from around the world on Thursday urged world leaders to make strong and inclusive changes to tackle climate change.

Speaking to prominent figures and young leaders at the One Young World summit in Bangkok, Annan said the world must realize that climate change is not an isolated issue ailing a few island nations, but one that is threatening the humanity as a whole.

“We have to realize we are in the same boat ... If one end of the ship begins to take water, we are all at risk. We swim or sink together in the long term, particularly when it comes to climate change,” he said. 

Kofi Annan (One Young World)
Kofi Annan (One Young World)


The Nobel Peace Prize laureate stressed the necessity of a binding agreement from the 21st Conference of Parties slated in Paris on Nov. 30-Dec. 11. He also urged developed countries to shoulder more responsibilities and take more actions in responding to climate change.

Annan’s resolve was echoed by other councilors and 1,300 delegates from 196 countries between ages 18 and 30, who shared their efforts to reduce waste, manage resources and contain the irreversible effects of climate change.

Gary White, summit councilor and founder of Water.org, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to providing sanitation and safe water, also discussed destructive effects of climate change that can occur through water such as droughts and rising sea levels.

Bryant Zebedy, a youth delegate from the Marshall Islands, delivered a speech calling for measures to ensure that his country and other Pacific islands would not perish under the rising sea levels caused by climate change.

“Now that global warming is in process, human activities are just there to rush the threat (of rising sea levels). We need to change the way we treat our ocean. I will not sit around and watch my nation fall apart from the impacts of global warming,” he said in an emotional speech that received a standing ovation.

Kim Min-woo, a delegate from South Korea, called on President Park Geun-hye to make more contributions in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent climate change. He said the South Korean government should implement policies that provide incentives for low-carbon emission products while taking on a greater role in environmental goods agreements that eliminate trade barriers on environmentally focused goods and services.

In addition, he has started a campaign called #lickitclean inviting consumers to help reduce food waste in a two-track effort coupled with governmental policies.

“Responsibility shows ability, more responsibility for the environment and to show South Korea’s ability to make a change,” Kim said.

By Yoon Min-sik, Korea Herald correspondent (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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