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Pay with plastic bottles for the public transport tickets and make a speech at the UN under the age of 10! The first UNITE 2030 Earth Action Summit has been held.

May 20th, 2020 was a milestone for UNITE 2030 since it marked the day of the Earth Action Summit – the first UNITE 2030 programme organized by the members of the community of the young changemakers, leaders from all around the world.

Altough this article will be about the Earth Action Summit, first of all I would like to make clear what UNITE 2030 actually is, since not everyone is familiar with this organization.

„UNITE 2030 was founded in 2016 to empower the next generation of young leaders to solve the world’s biggest critical global challenges – the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals”.

It’s founder is Alyssa Chassman who has already started to organize online events for its members. Thanks to this several changemakers (the name formed for the Unite 2030 members) created a social platform within which they could communicate. This was how the community started to organize itself and the way in which the Earth Action Summit came to life by the cooperation of Dominica Una (Nigeria), Ari Karp (Israel), Azeez Abubakar (Nigeria), Tasneem Pirbhai (Kenya) and Muhammad Ali (Pakistan).

What was the aim of this online happening? To create a change in regional and local communities from all over the world regarding with climate change! The impacts of this global problem are horrible – such as there are extreme weather conditions, pollution of the oceans and the air and the population due to the diseases caused by the pollution just to mention a few. Of course the participants of the Earth Action Summit were talking about the reasons (natural and anthropogenic) of the occurence of this phenomenon however maybe it is more important that they were also talking about the solutions.
To be more punctual:

„The Earth Action Summit (EAS) 2020 was an initiative by UNITE 2030 Changemakers tagged „Unite Action for Earth”. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the 1st Earth Action Summit was made virtual.”

To create a brainstorming session, the participants were split into 6 teams who were working in little workshops to think about solutions of certain problems of the Earth – e.g. domestic waste pollution, deforestation, transportation emissions or biodiversity loss – and after that they presented their solutions to the whole community. Some incredible ideas were highlighted such as creating a win-win situation for big companies, the promotion of volunteerism, giving financial benefits for those who use electric vehicles and special taxation measures for fossil fuel users by the government. However one of the most creative solutions mentioned was from Indonesia where people already pay for their public transport tickets by plastic bottles. Thus instead of throwing them away the citizens collect the recyclable materials by themselves and achieve a personal and a global benefit from the act.

To motivate the community the organizers invited some keynote speakers as well – the participants could listen to the presentation of Matthew Lefler who is the Manager of Earth Day Africa. He started his speech with the following: „Every Day is Earth Day” – this is the message what we should spread to the world! „And why is Earth Day important?” COVID-19 is an amazing example for this – when millions of people were posting about the Earth in social media on this day.

The second speaker was Dr. Jonathan Reichental, the CEO of Human Future and also the professor of UC Berkeley and the University of San Francisco just to mention a few of his accolades. He started his speech with the dinosaurs who – he said – have not changed the Earth as much as us – people. We have really changed the world with our behaviour – through e.g. industrial revolution, electricity… we have created an urban world. So now we need an energy revolution! (Just to highlight one data out of plenty – 70% of the greenhouse gases are produced by cities!) His speech fouced on how we need to make our cities smarter and save more in order to help each other to save our world from climate change. He suggested his book „Smart cities for dummies” to us, in which the reader can find some other solutions besides those he mentioned – like reducing the consumption of eating meat or recycle more.

Dr. Richard Munang, the Africa Regional Climate Change Coordinator also had a nice speech. He is leading a continental wide strategic and innovative approach to climate action implementation. In his presentation he highlighted the sustainable development goals – „through them we can act against the global problems” – he mentioned.

Finally the Earth Action Summit’s youngest speaker was the 8 years old Licypriya Kangunam from India. She is also the youngest green activist in the World since she was 6 and the youngest speaker at United Nations in the history of the World as well (she was invited there by Mr. Antonio Guterres himself)! She has already travelled to 32 countries as a part of her movement and her passion was definitely vivid at the Earth Action Summit too. In her speech she mentioned that „age doesn’t matter to make a change”. She was talking about the melting of the icebergs, the bushfires of Australia and I would like to turn the focus on something prominent what she said:

„If we would place the money spent for war, into climate actions, we could make a wonderful future for our next generations.”

I conclude this article with this thought and I also would like to add that neither age nor the size of the effort matter. If everyone makes a little change in their everyday lives – to be more ecological – it would lead to a huge difference for the Earth. I hope that everybody will think about the participants, the keynote speakers and at last – but not least his or her own solutions!

Anna Viola Hornyik


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