The 2021 Young Activists Summit Honors Six Young Activists at the United Nations in Geneva

The 2021 Young Activists Summit Honors Six Young Activists at the United Nations in Geneva
© Magali Girardin

Marking World Children’s Day, the third edition of the Young Activists Summit – ‘New Generation, New Solutions’ – gathered local students in the room and participants from all around the world online. #YAS21 offered them a platform to youth to take action for the environment and their rights, and saw the launch of the ‘One Right, One Action, One Tree’ initiative.

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie said to #YAS21 participants: “I have learned so much from young people (…), like the six laureates you are honoring in Geneva today. What I know is the young people have less fear, you are more fearless. (…) Find each other, grow together, hold on to what you know to be true and right, and insist on solutions. And then I believe your generation may really be able to pull our world back from the brink and set us on a better path.”

The 2021 Young Activists Summit awarded a prize to six young activists coming from all around the world with concrete solutions, which have had a real impact on the environment and their communities:

  • TIME Magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao, 15, Anti-cyberbullying service, USA
  • José Quisocala, 16, Bank for children’s education, Peru
  • Lual Mayen, 26, Video games for peace, South Sudan
  • Louise Mabulo, 23, Sustainable Farming & Climate Resilience, Philippines
  • Titouan Bernicot, 22, Super-corals for ocean conservation, French Polynesia
  • Stacy Dina Adhiambo Owino, 21, Female Genital Mutilation prevention app, Kenya

Joined by young people from the region at the United Nations in Geneva, along with youth activists and participants from at least 140 countries online, the activists were given the opportunity to exchange ideas and answer questions from the online community. Former Young Activists Summit laureates – Hamangai Pataxo, Fiona Amony, Alexandra Cerezo, Finlay Pringle – and refugees from the Kakuma Camp in Uganda also engaged in this interactive event. This served to celebrate the global impetus among youth to advance sustainability and defend their rights.

“We couldn’t just be passive about these issues, it’s a matter of acting now to adapt and transition to practices that are more climate-resilient”, Louise Mabulo said. “The Young Activists Summit has been extremely supportive in organising bilateral meetings and workshops as well that help train us on how to further develop our project in a way that’s more meaningful, and I know that all of the things that I’ve learned here I can take back, including networks and opportunities, that will benefit hundreds of farmers in my home town.”

The Summit launched the ‘One Right, One Action, One Tree’ initiative to invite the audience to take concrete actions to advance the activists’ causes and the children’s rights they promote. Trees will be planted on all five continents to reward the participants who will submit the first 2,000 pledges.

The 2021 laureates also encouraged the audience to take action. ‘I believe that there is always human talent everywhere, it doesn’t matter where you come from’, Lual Mayen stated. ‘Every little change in your daily life can make a difference’, Titouan Bernicot said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet addressed #YAS21 participants to demonstrate her support: “Youth activism is pushing the world forward (…), from the frontlines, to the headlines. (…) You have been influencing debates of national and international importance, (…) and holding governments and businesses to account for climate inaction. (…) We owe you a debt of gratitude for your activism. Your vision and courage are reasons to hope. They also provide us with a glimpse of the huge potential that youth advocacy and activism can have as a force for good, and transformative change”.

“Millions more young people around the world should join this movement and contribute to the resilience of their communities, propose innovative solutions, drive social progress, and help protect our planet”, UN Under-Secretary-General Melissa Fleming stated. More than 11 million people have been reached on social media through the #YAS21 hashtag.