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Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate named UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

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Robert Bumsted/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate was named UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.In taking her appointment the 25 vowed to continue to speak up for the most vulnerable.

A quiet strength. Vanessa Nakate is in the vanguard of climate action. The 25-year-old Uganda activist is the UNICEF’s newest "Goodwill Ambassador".

In the New York-based headquarters of the United Nations, Nakate vowed to continue to speak up for the most vulnerable: "I take this appointment not as a testament to something I have done, but as something that we have done as a movement of young people. 

Yes, this appointment opens doors to halls of power, but more importantly, it expands the opportunities I have to travel to meet children and families most affected by the climate crisis and to amplify their stories on stages like this one."

This recognition is a small accomplishment of the lists of Natake’s successes. Over the past 4 years, she created a platform called Rise Up Movement to help African climate activists amplify their voices, spearheaded an initiative to stop the deforestation of African rainforests and launched the Vash Greens Schools Project, which aims to install solar panels in remote areas of her home country, Uganda.

Since she entered the climate action movement in 2019 the world has witnessed unprecedented changes. The latest multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) highlighted that natural disasters were breaking records with alarming frequency.

"The impacts of climate change and now irreversible, Vanessa Nakate deplred. There is only so much a community can adapt to. This is deadly clear in the Horn of Africa. This is also deadly clear in Pakistan, where one third of the country is submerged, impacting tens of millions of people. And it is deadly clear in my home country of Uganda, which right now is also suffering devastating floods.

These countries did not create the problem, but they are paying the price for it, Nakate insisted**. Governments that continue to invest in fossil fuels are doing this to the children of Pakistan. Businesses that continue to refuse to cut emissions are doing this to the children of Somalia. This is a self-inflicted disaster. 

We are doing this to ourselves, to our global brothers and sisters. The only silver lining is that when something is self-inflicted, it means you are in control of it. Governments and industry must listen to the science and follow the data, which is getting harder to ignore every day**."

The climate vanguard generation

The new Unicef Goodwill ambassador said she drew inspiration from fellow young activists like Sweden Greta Tunberg. Around the world, they are joining forces to tackle this issue on what they view as a mission of a lifetime: raising awareness and advocating for concrete action for the sake of the generations to come.

"Most children and young people from the most affected places need to be invited to the room, Nakate said. We need to be listened to when we are there and what we say should be taken seriously and acted upon. We are the ones with the lived experience and the children and the young people are the ones who has suffered the worst impacts of climate change in the future."

After the United in science report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), was unveiled Tuesday, UN chief urged the international community and particularly the developed countries to deliver on their pledges.

His alarm was echoed by the WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas: "Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme weather events that we are experiencing have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change [...] It is more important than ever that we scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities. That is why WMO is spearheading a drive to ensure Early Warnings for All in the next five years."

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