Eight-year-old climate activist Licypriya Kangujam from Manipur was presented with the SDGs Ambassador Award 2019 during the 10th session of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) programme, held at Chandigarh University on Tuesday.
Government thinktank NITI Aayog and Hindi language daily Dainik Bhaskar also jointly appointed the young activist as an honarary SDGs Ambassador till 2030.
Accepting the award, Licypriya voiced her concerns: “I am here to speak for all the generations to come. I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard. I am here to speak for the countless animals dying on this planet because they have nowhere to go. I am afraid to go out in the sun now because there is a hole in our ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it.”
Young Licypriya informed the audience that she had raised funds to travel thousands of kilometres to tell the adults present there that they must change their way of thinking.
“Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election or few points on the stock market,” the activist said.
The ceremony was attended by Michael Oquaye, Ghana Envoy to India; Deepak Dwivedi, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Dainik Bhaskar; and Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog.
licypriya begged the government to understand her feelings and urged them to protect the environment and the future, earning a standing ovation from the hundreds of participants present.
Speaking on the high degradation of Delhi’s air, she said, “Governments are busy blaming each other instead of finding a long-term solution for the deadly air pollution. Children are unable to go out of their homes in Delhi. All schools have been shut down by the government. They are just giving speeches. I want the government to do more. They must act now, otherwise our future will be dying.”
Michael Oquaye lauded Licypriya’s speech, stating that US President Donald Trump must hear the eight-year-old girl and that it was the most capturing speech he had ever heard.
At the ceremony, NITI Ayog launched a collective community initiative, ‘SDGs Choupal’. It aims to implement various localised projects in order to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with equal participation from rural India.
The World Health Organization (WHO), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Nagrik Foundation, Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of the Government of India, Chandigarh University, and UNAI collaborated in organising the event. UNAI was launched by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on November 18, 2010.
India had committed to the UN’s SDGs in September 2015.