UN Environment Assembly: Two Kenyan teenagers steal the show

Mazino Dickson

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The 2019 UN Environment Assembly kicked off in Nairobi in spectacular style – with two teenagers taking center stage.

Charlotte Wanja and Shlok Sachdev, both 17, were invited to attend after winning a Kenya-wide speech-writing competition on the theme “Our Earth in 2050”.

They warned about the consequence of air pollution to an endangered environment, but they ultimately offered resilience……and hope.

“It is a topic that makes my heart throb, goosebumps come out of nowhere and sometimes I get really emotional, but I have every right to feel this way,” said Charlotte Wanja.

“The future of our earth involves me. And my future children. And my children’s children. We have faith, we have truth, we have hopes, and we have visions.”

Shlok Sachdev, a student at Premier Academy in Nairobi, said it was time for the world to further explore the benefits of turning to alternative energy.

“I believe in a future where renewable energy is the new normal, where we cut down on fossil fuels and go electric, a future where we really learn to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

He also asked young people to channel their energies towards innovation.

“We’re more with it in the sense that every new thing that comes out we like to know about it as quickly as we can. This sort of curiosity is what will drive us,” he said.

“The youth are 100 per cent of our future. We are the ones who are supposed to make these changes. We need to start putting renewable energy as a priority and start to innovate and make it more efficient, so we can run our whole world on renewable energy.”

Call for action

The teenagers ended their speeches during the launch of the Sixth edition of the Global Environment Outlook with fervent pleas for action.

“We have the ability, we are capable of building an amazing future. It is time that everyone realizes that the future lies in our hands. To live in a garbage wasteland or a golden garden. Choose,” Charlotte said.

“We need to focus on our earth before it’s too late because this earth gives us everything,” Shlok said.

“Let us give Mother Nature our full support.”