“In June of this year, I along with my sibling and co-founder of Heirs To Our Ocean went to Lisbon, Portugal, to attend and speak at the UN Ocean Conference. However, what I discovered as we registered for this event was that, because I was not 18 or older, I could not get into the official UN Ocean Conference. I could only speak at, or even attend, the un-official side events.
I was honored to speak at the UNESCO-IOC Ocean Decade side event where I announced Heirs To Our Ocean’s toolkit to be used in development of Youth Advisory Councils for the United Nations Ocean Decade. During my presentation I also spoke to the fact that the age requirement of 18 and older to attend the Ocean Conference was blocking youth engagement.
Overall, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be at the Ocean Decade side event and that I was able to connect with and hear from many amazing individuals including other youth activists. I will continue to push for more inclusivity in these spaces where decisions are being made for our future and our children’s future.”Dakota, H2OO Co-Founder, California USA
“At the UN Ocean Conference, I was both lifted and disappointed by my experience. I made many great connections to youth leaders alongside my fellow Co-Founder Dakota, but I also saw how disconnected many countries are from the true needs of our planet.
To be honest, I was disappointed by how the conference seemed to be just another platform for representatives of organizations and member nations to brag about their accomplishments. As a stakeholder, my voice was diminished and dismissed in favor of representatives of member nations. It was ironic that each leader would repeat that they are fighting for the next generation when the next generation did not even have a voice in the room.
I spoke out about how it is important to include youth voices meaningfully in the UN Ocean Decade, because as the next generation, we are fighting for our futures, for our literal lives against the climate and ocean crises.”Charley, H2OO Co-Founder and H2OO Board Member, California USA