On Saturday 2.3, 500 young people gathered in the Finlandia house in the heart of Finnish capital Helsinki to discuss climate change and to request stronger leadership from politicians in climate issues ahead of the Finnish elections.
Spark stood as one of the co-hosting organisations, and we had the great pleasure to talk to young people who are inspiring action, listen to Finnish president and role-model Tarja Halonen deliver some hard facts about sustainability, voting and climate action – and hold a workshop on the impact of personal climate actions!
Some of the points from the introductory speech by Tarja Halonen that really stuck with us:
- Stopping climate change means a better living standard for everyone, everywhere.
- Most sustainability goals are intertwined, and doing something about the climate crisis will also help reach other sustainable development goals.
- We shouldn’t fear that we are a small country and that our impact would thus be small. As in many other previous cases with important topics such as peace and women’s rights, Finland can be a catalyst, an example for the rest of the world to follow
- For all the information we have about climate change, facts have yet to be transformed into actions – it is so inspiring to see that the young generation is now making their voice heard, keep it up!
- One can do many things for the climate – and one doesn’t have to do them all at once – and it’s fun!
- Remember: in a democracy we get exactly as good representatives as we deserve. Remember to ask candidates the questions that are most important to you, and to cast your vote.
The comments from the Spark team members who were present at the Climate Summit sums it up quite well:
Linda: What really impressed me was that there were young kids attending the summit without their parents – and that they knew a lot about climate change and what we can do about it! For example, one young girl needed help with filling out our Carbon Donut since it’s in English but she knew exactly how much she travels by car each year!
Amanda: Over lunch we had a quite deep and philosophical discussion about what makes a good life: is it a job that gives more money so that you can consume more – get that third car, that bigger house and that boat? Young people at the meeting felt that their parents don’t understand that they want to work for something else than the money: “The point of life isn’t to acquire more stuff” one said, and we even wondered about how the world would look if we all worked 6 hour days, having more time to spend with loved ones and less money to consume carbon intensive goods with. Such a refreshing discussion!
Jasmin: I think it’s really empowering to see how youth are taking climate action all over the world and how these great initiatives like the Young People’s Climate Summit are taking place in order to get our generation’s voice heard. As a environmental science student I have worried about ecological problems for a long time now so seeing this kind of mobilization among the youth is something really overwhelming and heartening. Young people have taken the action into their own hands after realizing that this is about our future and that we can be the generation who stopped climate change.
Like the great climate strike leader Greta Thunberg has said; “The one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere”. I really feel like hope is everywhere now!