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Danica Sun Addresses the Climate Action Assembly

Danica Sun addresses the Climate Action Assembly I at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Danica Sun. I’m a senior in high school and I turned 17 three weeks ago. At this point, I’ve been in climate activism for about a third of my life doing things such as leading chants at strikes, speaking to representatives and running climate literacy programs.

We are gathered here this week to defend freedom and human rights. Well, climate change endangers and harms fundamental human needs which makes it an issue of human rights. 

Especially for the younger and future generations who will experience the worst of the crisis.

So I’m here right now to ask all of you in attendance to defend the human right of youth to inherit a safe environment and standard of living. When I was young I heard about climate change and it was always implied that it was a future issue that really would never impact me and would happen far into the future. But I now realize that is the completely wrong mindset, it’s happening now and it impacts everyone. 

Climate change does not pick and choose. No matter your geographic location, socio-economic status, or whether you believe in climate change or not; everyone is impacted and nothing can protect you except for rapid and serious action. And as most of you probably know we’re already seeing these consequences everywhere. And when I look out into the world and I see the increased pollution from wildfires, flash floods, and severe weather; I know that those are just glimpses into my future and I’m scared. I’m scared of what my life will look like in 15 years. for what type of world my children will grow up in. 

So youth are crucial in the climate movement. We must be given a role in the discussions that determine the livability of our future. We have ideas, thoughts, and stories that we want to share. But those ideas are only as good as our ability to communicate and implement them. and we need your help to communicate and implement those ideas. So deliberately create spaces for youth at places like this, places like  COP28, in the Parliament of World’s Religions.

I am so fortunate to be able to attend COP 28 this year. And you best believe I’m making the most out of that opportunity and showing that I have the most impact possible to represent all the other youth that are not able to attend. And just like how we want adults to listen to us, us youth also want to learn from you guys. So mentor us and form partnerships, educate the youth not yet involved in the movement, and empower them bringing them to action. 

And now I want everyone to pause and take a second to think. What did you worry about at age 17? What do you imagine a teenager in the United States typically worries about? Maybe clothes, the new iPhone, but nowadays so many other youths just like I am are sacrificing short-term for long-term priorities. Sacrificing hours at school and school board meetings, writing climate action plans, or implementing composting into our cafeterias. Sacrificing our diets, I’ve been vegan for over three years now, and we are sacrificing our education, skipping weeks of school to strike and attend events like COP. And we are trying to do all this and still just be kids. 

A study surveying 10,000 youth from 10 different countries found that 6 in 10 youth are very or extremely worried about the climate crisis, and 46% say this worry negatively impacts their lives. But within this despair, youth find hope in stepping up to take action and seeing others take action. Everyone in this room has influence and power, and we need people like you to join us in unity to create this hope and lighten the burden, to use the resources and perspectives of older and younger generations together, and we need those in power to step up to their responsibilities and duty to fight for their youth. 

As parents, take action in the name of your responsibility to provide a safe and thriving future for the children you love. As religious figures, take action in the name of protecting this beautiful planet that our creators or whatever higher entity you believe in gave us. And as decision-makers, take action in the name of protecting your constituents, your duty to the people you represent. So whatever role you serve in, live up to those duties and responsibilities and fight for intergenerational justice.

Finally for the few youth who may be an audience, know you are fiery and passionate and you can make change, so use your voice. And to the adults, the youth need you. It is not too late to amplify our voices and join us to create change and unity. We need all of you, both the adults in positions of power and the adults in our everyday lives, to fight. So fight for your children and fight with us. Thank you.

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