Bitanya Kassaye, the Swedish Youth Representative to the UN High-Level Political Forum and The National Council of Swedish Children and Youth Organizations (LSU), delivered a powerful keynote address during the Round Table discussions leading up to the IUFRO World Congress this summer. She called for systemic change and increased climate justice with a clear intersectional perspective.
In her presentation, Bitanya highlighted the critique expressed by many youth organizations. This critique goes beyond a simple shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Also, it addresses systems that exploit both people and natural resources to meet demand and consumption, particularly in global North countries.
Bitanya proposed that Sweden, alongside other nations, should take a larger responsibility in compensating for the damages and losses contributed by these countries.
“Agriculture must be viewed as an opportunity for transformation, advocating for regenerative agriculture, reduced antibiotic use, and practices that do not contribute to deforestation”, she said.
Green areas for public health
As a former scout, Bitanya emphasized the importance of urban green areas for well-being and public health, highlighting that forests and trees contribute significantly to resilient cities and communities. Furthermore, Bitanya underscored that forests are indispensable for various Sustainable Development Goals, including biodiversity preservation and prosperity.
Bitanya emphasized the interdependence and connectivity of the economy, society, and ecology, stating that sustainable development cannot be achieved by prioritizing one of these areas alone.
“We need binding laws, agreements, and regulations on environmental impacts, highlighting the need to protect marginalized groups and ensure their representation in decision-making processes”, she stated.
Youth Engagement for a Sustainable Future
Inclusivity in climate negotiations is a democratic principle according to Bitanya, who commended Sweden’s support for the education of young people in these negotiations. She stressed that inclusive policies not only strengthen the drafting of regulations but also increase their likelihood of being realized.
By taking responsibility, implementing inclusive policies, and fostering collaboration, she believes that the challenges faced today can be overcome, paving the way for a better tomorrow.
“Let us recognize the power of youth in creating a sustainable and equitable future. By taking responsibility, implementing inclusive policies, and fostering collaboration, we can overcome the challenges we face today and pave the way for a better tomorrow”, Bitanya Kassaye said.