Where were you?

#FridaysForFuture
May 24, 2019, Florence, Italy 

“Where were you?”

The question we all must ask ourselves with sincerity. It’s deafening. The children and youth of 2019 and the future deserve a solid, honest answer. In fact, they demand one.

These young people turned out in the thousands today in Florence amidst predictions of millions more turning out around the world – in over 1400 cities across at least 110 countries. They stood calm, confident and cheerful. But they meant business and they were not afraid to say what they thought.

You could see it on their placards, their t-shirts, and most of all, on their faces. You could hear it in the drum beats, the rousing music and their voices over microphones, megaphones and heartfelt chants – the loudest of which went:

The future is ours and we want it back!

Today, there was no excuse not to see them and hear their pleas.

Young people gathered in a crowded town centre holding banners and placards.
© UNICEF/Italy/2019/InghamA peaceful protest through the streets of Florence as part of #FridaysForFuture, a global movement spurred on by (now) 16 year old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

This is serious. These kids are not backing down. And now more than ever, we need to be there behind them, because so far, most of the world have totally let them down.

This is about a future. It’s about the right to a clean, safe environment and livable homes. In fact, as every right spelled out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child is inherent to the human dignity and the harmonious development of every child, it’s hard to find a right that isn’t violated by a rapidly changing climate. Children see it. Youth see it. It’s time for adults to see it and really start to use our influence and expertise to make the biggest contributors see it, hear it and act on it – fast.

As humans, this is on us.

As UNICEF, and the very mandate, mission and values we stand for, this is on us.

As individuals who want life to continue, this is on us.

And for those most vulnerable children and young people we serve, this is on us.

As UNICEF, when those we serve — and those closest to us — turn and ask the question, we especially should have an answer worth hearing. For every child, everywhere.

 

Angus Ingham works in Special Projects at NYHQ. He is currently on temporary assignment at UNICEF Innocenti, Florence.

 

A panoramic image of young people gathered in a crowded town centre holding banners and placards.
© UNICEF/Italy/2019/InghamThousands of children and young people meet at the Piazza Santa Maria Novella to begin a peaceful protest through the streets of Florence as part of #FridaysForFuture.

Explore UNICEF and UNICEF Innocenti’s work on climate:

Environment and climate change

The impact of climate change on children (Report)

Children on the front line (Report)

UNICEF’s work on climate (Videos)

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