Sat 7 December, 2019, COP 25 Madrid— Pacific youth at the global climate negotiations in Madrid have been told they– more than elected leaders– are the most valuable champions for climate action.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told youth leaders sharing the stage at a COP 25 high level panel they could speak to the need “for urgent and ambitious action more powerfully than I ever could. Why? Because it is your future ultimately at stake in this campaign. There is no force mightier than your courageous advocacy and justifiable angst in demanding action from the leaders of the world.”

He told Belyndar Rikimani, Maryann Puia, and Willy Missack he was “not only proud to stand with each of you in this campaign, I am proud to lead a nation backing your demands for action with climate-conscious development; slashing our emissions while building an inclusive and resilient economy.”

Bainimarama detailed Fiji’s ambitions and actions towards a green, clean economy as part of keeping global warming to a 1.5 degree limit, saying those governments falling “short of robust climate action are not only failing the global community and the coming generations, they are denying their own people.”

Other Pacific leaders echoing the call on young climate activists to carry the message at the world’s 25th annual negotiations meeting on climate included Tokelau’s Ulu Kelihiano Kalolo, Niue’s Minister for Natural Resources Dalton Tagelagi– whose own country delegation is led by Youth for climate activists, and Samoa’s Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations, Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia.

In their responses, the climate youth speakers were clear on the need for resourcing and commitment, calling on leaders to go beyond lip service and pursue meaningful engagement with Pacific youth.

In earlier sessions, SPREP’s Tagaloa Cooper-Halo  said there’s a need for youth activists wanting to take their leadership to the next level, to allow their ‘humble beginnings’ to shape their future professionalism in the field, “so that the opportunities you have in online platforms picks up the right attention” for their efforts.

She said the new Pacific Climate Change Centre (at SPREP HQ in Apia) offers more opportunities for young climate activists to deepen engagement, partnerships and innovation.