'We could lose humanity': Pupils call for action at Cop28

Youngsters gather in Dubai seeking guidance and knowledge from experts on climate change

Swara Bondge believes her generation should work hand-in-hand to fight climate change. Rana Afifi / The National
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School pupils from across the globe attending Cop28 have stressed the need for young voices to be heard during the key climate summit - as it is their "future on the line".

Young people told The National of their hopes and concerns for the planet and revealed why they wanted to be part of the UN conference at Expo City Dubai.

Swara Bondge, 12, from India, wants to better understand how she can contribute to saving the environment by gaining knowledge and spreading awareness.

“I think it's important for me and everyone to gain knowledge," she said. "If we don't take this seriously, we will have a lot of problems.

“We could lose humanity. It's important, even for younger people, to know everything, spread knowledge and to actually employ it.”

Swara believes younger people can build a community to encourage one another by speaking up but she is also aware of obstacles.

“I’m no one famous. It's not like if I say something it's going to directly spread, so we must try harder. We can use social media and build a community.

“There are a lot of challenges. It's not an easy task but we're trying our best as children.”

Youth must have a say

Ali Munif, 16, from England, says attending the conference is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

“Everyone obviously knows what climate change is but I think because they don't physically see the offsets of it, they don't really understand it,” he said.

“We can make people change their ways, as another big influence in climate change is the financial aspect because obviously there's a lot of greed."

As much as Ali wants to help fight climate change, he thinks it’s unfortunate pupils his age struggle to make the most of their voice.

“It's not like I have a lot of power and it's not like I have a lot of experience, so as someone who's younger my opinions are probably less heard," he added.

"It’s important for younger generations to be heard because, after all, it’s our future on the line.”

Marleen Woehl, 12, from Germany, is visiting Cop28 to draw inspiration from the new ideas and solutions people are coming up with to fight climate change.

“I think my role is very important in fighting climate change because, when I'm older, I will have to make important choices,” she said.

“It's hard when you're 12 because people don't really see you as a person who knows what you're doing because you're still a kid.

“I think anyone, if they want to say something, should be heard. It doesn't matter what age or what gender."

Ombeline Redon, 17, from France, is in Dubai to learn from experts, as she believes social media is not the right place to seek knowledge.

“This event is very important because many nations are participating to find solutions to saving the environment,” she said.

“Youth should influence others by showing that we're invested in the environment and that this generation is willing to do a lot to change the planet."

Updated: December 08, 2023, 11:27 AM