Today, 150 world leaders will sign the Paris Climate Agreement in New York City. This will be the largest single signing of an international agreement in world history.
Climate activist, eco hip hop artist, and Earth Guardian youth director Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh, aka Kid Warrior, will be attending the signing of the agreement and speaking in an interview with Leonardo DiCaprio to talk about the ways youth are rising in the climate movement.
With this moment comes great hope but also profound fear, as people worldwide, especially youth who will be inheriting the planet, ask themselves: “will it be enough?” Is this agreement sufficient to address climate change and build true resilience, especially in the most vulnerable places?
When people hear about Earth Guardians, they often think about Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh, and while Tonatiuh is an impressive leader in his own right, there are many other extraordinary young people behind Earth Guardians and their new project Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth (R.Y.S.E.), some of whom we interviewed for this story.
As our world leaders sign this agreement and begin the process of implementing solutions, we need bold leadership to take a serious look at family planning and reproductive rights as a solution to climate change. This Earth Day, we teamed up with Earth Guardians to learn about their perspectives, as climate activists, on family planning, reproductive rights, and sexual health, and how they see these issues as intertwined with the climate justice movement.
Speaking with these young leaders revealed some important opportunities. For the most part, the climate movement has not considered family planning or reproductive rights as a possible solution and as a means of building resilient and healthy communities. Simply starting conversations about the connections between a sustainable environment and reproductive health and rights can have a powerful impact. Even though these young people hadn’t talked about the connections before, they are aware of them now and are inspired to take this information into the work they do, which involves mentoring and training other young people to be climate leaders.
What came across most clearly in these interviews with Aidan, Daniel, and Jonathon was that they consistently brought up intersectionality and how social justice and environmental justice go hand-in-hand. This Earth Day and for Earth Days to come, that’s a concept to embrace. We cannot have fruitful climate solutions or a successful reproductive justice movement without including young people’s voices, thoughts, and concerns. We need to trust them with information and empower them to share their stories so more young people can feel safe and encouraged to get involved in whatever movement calls to them.