© Madison Stevens/Polar Bears International

10/28/2015 5:53:14 PM

A Call to Youth Action on Climate Change

Hi, my name is Gerrit, and I'm the Executive Director of an organization called the Youth Arctic Coalition, and I'm also a student at the University of Ottawa. I'm here in Churchill with PBI as a panelist for their Tundra Connections program, so I hope to get the chance to hear a lot of your questions over the next few days. 

I'm really excited to be here, and to talk about what role young people have to play in the future of our world, especially when we're talking about climate change. 

I have often heard people saying that "youth are the leaders of tomorrow," but I don't think that's the whole picture. Young people are in a very special place in our world right now, and we already have a lot more power than many of us believe. 

We are the connected generation.

Never before has the world been so small; with the help of things like Facebook, Skype, and Twitter, we're able to communicate instantly with people all around the world. This is incredibly powerful!

During our first webcast out on the tundra from Buggy One, we talked a lot about the role that young people can play in the future of the Arctic, especially going into the COP21 climate talks in Paris this December. I believe that young people have a crucial role to play in the future of our world, by fueling the conversation around climate change and how it will impact future generations.

When you take the time to email, talk to, or even tweet a politician, they believe that there are thousands who think the same way you do. When you share information on social media, you're helping to inform hundreds of other people, who in turn will share with other people. This domino effect is powerful. It shows to our leaders that it's time to make change; it's time to do something.

Also, as young people, we have the chance to say exactly what we want to say. (#NoFilter) We're not politicians, and we don't have an agenda. Some might think that this means that we're powerless, and that we're not invited to the discussion table, but I think it puts us in a perfect position to make a difference. We CAN ask the hard questions, and we CAN be honest with what we believe is right and what we believe is wrong.

This is my call to action. Never stop talking. Never stop sharing. Our impact will never end. If you're from Paris or Pangnirtung, you have the opportunity to create the world that you want to see. For all of those that believe that young people are only waiting for tomorrow, I have one message:

We are leaders of today, for a better tomorrow.

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