On 24 February 2022, Kimberly Gudhlanga performed spoken word at the opening of the event hosted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – From global to local: How General Comment No. 26 can advance children’s environmental rights.
The event brought together young activists, UN officials and governments for a dialogue on how to contribute to the General Comment No. 26 and how it can advance children’s environmental rights on national and local levels. It also marked the official launch of the child and youth consultations contributing to the development of General Comment No. 26.
Kimberly is a 17-year-old Environmental Child Rights Activist from Zimbabwe advocating for child-centered environmental policies. This is her powerful spoken word performance.
My name is Kimberly Gudhlanga. Junior President of the senate in the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe. I am an environmental child rights activist and I believe in building an environmental child rights network for climate and intergenerational justice.
As humanity, mother earth is the one thing we all have in common and yet she is ailling. Wake up one day to a sudden temperature drop and the next to a heatwave. Open up a window for some fresh air but you can tell it’s not fair, it’s all the same if not severe. Brace yourself for a wet rainy day being a jolly child, hoping to jump in a puddle but all you will find is rubble.
And when someone finally bursts your bubble then you will wonder why you are going through all this trouble, only to stumble upon the sad and humble truth which is…life on this earth is no longer the same as before…
The environment is in distress.
Children are starving.
Children are mentally unwell, clinging onto life with the uncertainty of hope.
What terror is environmental harm yet to bring upon their lives.
As I look upon this, I become numb as I am pervaded by a deep sense of emptiness, yet I remain perceptive towards these impacts. Giving me the drive each day to boldly stand and speak against all forms of environmental injustice, calling upon the inclusion of children in the creation of child friendly environmental policies.
A wise man once said, the best way to predict the future is to create it. Today let’s create our future with the power of stewardship, through sustaining and safeguarding our environment for the generations to come. Having done so, we can rest assured, knowing very well that our future won’t bite, rather it will be full of light and nothing short of the realisation of every child’s right.
Not forgetting that as humanity mother earth is the one thing we all have in common. Through connecting grassroots and intersectoral work and involving children as decision makers and policy makers. An environment fit for all children becomes a plausible reality.”
With this I thank you.