2019 will be remembered as the year the climate crisis shook us all. Hopefully, it will also be remembered for the fight back manifested in the spread of mass protests and civic movements against governments and industries failing to respond.Calls to combat climate change rang in the ears of delegates from nearly 200 countries at the annual UN climate summit in Madrid. But the heads of government or state of the world's largest polluters were notably absent, including the United States, China and Russia.
As planetary temperatures have risen, a landmark report by the IPBES warned that more than a million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction - many within decades. This twin challenge has far-reaching consequences and the ramifications of complacency have started to show.
The expanding Sahara Desert is breaking up families and spreading conflict. More than 50 million people across Southern, Eastern and Central Africa are facing a hunger crisis because of extreme weather conditions. And in the Pacific, small Island States are sinking beneath rising sea levels.
Irregular migration is rising and has driven thousands to their deaths. Human Traffickers are exploiting this exodus and are contributing to the second largest criminal economy on the planet, with an alarming 40 million people enslaved around the world. According to the UN Refugee Agency, 70 million people in the world are currently displaced by conflict, and the response of many countries has been to erect walls.
The SDG's made a solemn promise to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty by 2030, and that cannot be achieved unless the world's smallholder farmers can adapt to climate change. However, the SDG's are in trouble and the UN's Secretary General has issued a clear warning: a "much deeper, faster and more ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and economic transformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals."
As inspired by Swedish Teenager Greta Thunberg and others, youth is the new face of global activism. It is imperative that we follow their lead to secure the future they will inherit, and pay heed to Secretary General Antonio Guterres warning: "Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?"