«I want my voice to be heard from anyone who has power over this because changes need to be held immediately.»
Eighteen-year-old Fatlinda's message is clear. It echoes the calls of children and young people around the world, and of organisations that support their rights: they must be part of the climate crisis discussion. Why? «Children are not just the future, they are the present», says Brian King, a 17-year-old climate activist.
«It's time you start taking the tough decisions.»
As the world's decision-makers gather for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), children around the world are showing the devastating impact of the climate crisis on their lives.
In Nigeria, young Aisha has a critical view of the situation: «The rainy season floods destroy houses and prevent children from going to school and places where they used to play». She proposes a solution «We need to build water channels within the community to protect our villages from flooding.» In Bangladesh, Jewel is experiencing the consequences of rising temperatures:«Because of climate change, it is too hot and it is difficult to work in the factory. I want to tell the decision-makers that in my neighbourhood there is a lot of industrial waste. It is dangerous and has a very bad smell. It has to be cleaned up.»
«The rainy season floods destroy houses houses and prevent children from going to school.»
According to UNICEF, 99% of the world's children are affected by at least one climate risk factor. This situation jeopardises their rights: the right to grow up in a healthy environment, to have access to healthy and sufficient food, and to education.
The consequences also affect Europe, for example Kosovo, where Fatlinda lives. «My family works in the agricultural sector. Due to the long dry period during the summer, they had many problems growing their crops. They had to increase their prices.»
«Organisations like the UN have started to include children and young people more and more,», says Brian. This is good news, but there is still a long way to go before it becomes mainstream «The biggest challenge I face is not being taken seriously. When I talk to policy makers, all they see is a little kid making noise. All they see is a person who hasn't lived 'enough' to know what they mean.» A situation that Brian, Fatlinda, Aisha and Jewel among many others are fighting to change.