A delegation of seven New Zealand youth have spent the week in Kenya working to get a voice for the environment at the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly.
The youth delegates have succeeded in raising issues before the plenary around the importance of taking real action for climate change, looking at the way we engage in agriculture and the importance of all of the decisions made by government and individuals that impact the environment.
‘Our many backgrounds give us a great ability to voice our concerns on many of the environmental issues we see today and we have been heard on multiple platforms,’ said Youth Delegate and climate change health educator Emily Rushton.
Meanwhile back in New Zealand there has been a major funding cut for the Department of Conservation. DOC has been allocated nearly $40 million less than last year, a cut of nearly nine percent. The youth group, at the United Nations forum to represent New Zealand youth, are hugely disappointed in the government's announced budget cuts, particularly the cut to DOCs funding for protecting nature. They believe the budget cuts will not only have a direct effect on our New Zealand environment, but also negatively affect communities.
‘For people whose livelihoods depend on the land or water, the state of the environment affects income and thus access to health care, decent housing and education’ says Eleanor Parkes, Head Delegate. ‘The government has continued on the same path they started at the Paris Climate Conference and failed to take the actions necessary to protect our environments’.
The youth delegation expressed that the budget is clearly is lacking any leadership in guiding New Zealand through a future under climate change. ‘Elements such as the meager increases to the funding of public transport in Auckland, as well as the extension of the $25 per tonne price cap of the ETS, meant that our 2030 emission targets are already looking increasingly unattainable,’ expressed Piet Ubels, fellow Delegate and City Vision Candidate for the Albert-Eden Local Board.
The youth representatives, who come from a range of backgrounds, maintain that protecting the environment is an essential part of achieving the targets set for New Zealand in the Sustainable Development Goals. These are targets that the New Zealand government has agreed to but we have thus far seen little action to show that they intend to meet them.
All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.