ABUJA – The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has charged the youth of Nigeria to be ambassadors and champions in advocating for climate change issues. Speaking during a twitter chat as part of his visit to Nigeria, the UN Secretary-General urged Nigerian and African youth to play their part in preserving the climate.“Youth should say this is our world, this is where we live and we should preserve it”; he stated. Mr. Ki-moon who was in Nigeria to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) added that, “arguments on whether climate change is important or not is over.”

NigeriaThe social media event which was held in Abuja was convened by the United Nations Millennium Campaign on behalf of the United Nations System in Nigeria and attended by youth leaders and young entrepreneurs working in the field of sustainable development. The event provided opportunity for the UN Chief to explain the SDGs, its prospects and the key roles African youth would play in the implementation of the new global agenda. It featured question and answer sessions from youth representatives and was followed by millions of twitter audience worldwide.

In his opening statement, the United Nations Secretary-General stated that youth issues were amongst the top five priorities of his second term. He regretted that despite their potentials, millions of youth worldwide are jobless, hence the importance of putting youth at the centre of the SDGs.

NigeriaOn their role in addressing climate change, the UN Secretary-General charged young people, saying “raise your voices on climate change and hold your governments accountable.” Continuing, he called on the entire humanity to recognise the importance of protecting the planet; stating: “we have a duty to nurture our nature. We should not fight our nature. We cannot defeat nature.” He called for a change of attitude to renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse emission. He added that Nigeria being the largest country in Africa with lots of natural resources, should lead by example. He called for the West African nation to invest in sustainable and renewable energy.

He stated that through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the foundation for global commitments to eradicating poverty, diseases and ensuring environmental sustainability was laid. He commended Nigeria for the progress made in saving human lives from unnecessary deaths and preventable diseases such as HIV/AIDS. He said that the death rates occasioned by HIV/AIDS has been reduced by more than 50% since 2013. The UN Chief praised Nigeria for not recording any new incidence of polio for a year and announced thNigeriaat the World Health Organization (WHO) is embarking on processes aimed at declaring Nigeria polio free.

The Secretary-General acknowledged that scorecards for the MDGs are uneven globally. “Some countries are doing well and have achieved the goals, others have some goals unachieved. We are carrying over most of the goals into the SDGs with 17 goals which cover all spectrums of our lives;” he stated. While calling for support for the SDGs, the UN scribe stated: “the sooner we engage in sustainable path the better for our world”.

See the Storify recap of the Twitter chat here.

For further information, contact:
Hilary Ogbonna
Acting Regional Coordinator,  Africa
United National Millennium Campaign

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