Category: SDG15

YOUNG PEOPLE ARE KEY TO ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL #15 (LIFE ON LAND)

ESSAY FOR TSL COMPETITION *FINALIST*

Nico Roma (10 years-old), Kings College School, Cambridge

Every species is unique and precious, just like every child. If we clear our forests, degrade our lands and destroy whole ecosystems, we are stealing from all future generations of life on land. If all beings could speak and humans truly listened, they would tell us. We need new voices for the generations of life at risk.

Long ago, people moved from England to Canada. They took the lands from First Nations stewards, nature they called home. Majestic indigo mountains and emerald biodiverse valleys were clear-cut for asphalt highways, sprawling strip-malls and smelly landfills. Ancient forests were pulped into cheap paper. Soon, many BC wild places were threatened. This was unjust.

I imagine a Council of All Beings coming together. Every other species of life on land – Blue-Heron, Hedgehog, Newt, Dragonfly, also Pine-Marten, Wolf, Eagle, Cedar, even Lichens – would turn angry eyes towards Humans. Man would be on trial for destroying the ecologies of the world. Man would start to cry, when he realised how much he’d hurt everyone else. Children would stand up alongside. Our future is at stake too. We would promise to help all species and ecosystems recover. 

We can all become stewards. My grandfather and his family left the crowded, smoggy streets of London and polluted, degraded wetlands of East Anglia for the fresh emerald coasts of British Columbia. But rather than destroying, they tried to protect. As a youth, my mother stood up for BC’s ancient rainforests, campaigning to save the precious Carmanah-Walbran Valleys and Clayoquot Sound. They started clubs and eco-libraries, wrote letters and petitions, held marches and even hunger-strikes. They had courage, they found their voices and things did change. It’s still far from perfect, but Canada’s west coast remains a most beautiful place in the world to live, and rights of First Nations are increasingly respected. 

Young people are key for SDG 15! All children can be part of saving life on land. We can raise awareness through social media, blogs, radio, forming a global campaign to reverse deforestation and restore ecosystems, helping plant billions of trees, slowing climate change and avoiding terrible impacts by keeping global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees. We can mobilise, so newly-aware kids stand up. In the UN’s Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Egypt, nearly 200 countries launched talks for a new global biodiversity plan, with Canada co-chairing. We can petition all our decision-makers, reminding them to be fair to other species and future generations. We can also act to restore nature ourselves, with school eco-societies and communities. We can become local Guardians for Nature – stopping pollution and poaching, creating new protected areas; and helping everyone live sustainably together.

For all beings and all life on land, we must get started, right now!