STATEMENT – CLIMATE JUSTICE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

New York, September 24, 2019.

Young volunteers from all regions of the world filed today a path-breaking legal action for future generations.

Concerned residents of the Earth file a path-breaking legal action for future generations.
In the photo are the young lawyers and law students (L-R) — Shannon Peters (Oceania), Nicole Ponce (Asia), Miranda Steed (Europe and the Americas), Tarini Mehta (South Asia and Africa) — who filed the People’s Petition. Receiving the Petition is lawyer Tanya Ramiro, representing the Philippine Consulate and UN Mission. Holding a Philippine flag is Fil-Am youth volunteer Gabriel Cohen .
The young people seek the advice of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the duties of States to future generations in the face of the climate crisis.

The global team of volunteer law students, young lawyers, and ordinary citizens, backed by a team of senior environmental law advisers, went to the UN Philippine Mission in New York to file the petition.  They claim to represent themselves, other concerned residents of the Earth, and future generations. They ask for the advice of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the question:

“In this climate crisis, what are the duties of States under International Law to the present and future generations?”

On the occasion of the UN Climate Summit, the young people of the world expressed their support for the legal action Greta Thunberg and company filed yesterday (23 Sept) in the UN. They plead with the governments of the world to take strong, serious, and sustained action to face, and embrace, the climate emergency. 

The Philippines

The filing of worldwide petitions starting with the Philippine Mission has great symbolic significance. The Philippines – a group of islands at the west of the Pacific Ocean — is the most vulnerable to the destructive impacts of the climate crisis.  In November 2013, it was hit by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the most powerful typhoon in history to make landfall, with winds of more than 300 kilometers per hour.  The Philippines is now experiencing extreme weather events, intense flooding, water scarcity, drought-like conditions, and fast-rising sea levels.

Almost 30 years ago, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the legal right of children and future generations to take action in a Court of Law.   The Court ruled that every generation has a duty to ensure that future generations will continue to have the Life-sources of Land, Air, and Water – The LAW of Life. 

This was an offshoot of a then-ridiculous case filed in 1990 by 43 Filipino children, acting on their own behalf and on behalf of future generations. Standing up to powerful industry interests, they filed the lawsuit to stop logging in the country’s remaining old-growth rainforests.

What’s Next?

This is the start of a journey of volunteers from around the world. “There is no heart stronger than a volunteer”.

They will mobilize at least 10 million signatures to support the UN General Assembly Resolution for the ICJ Advisory Opinion.  They will join forces with other youth groups and concerned residents of the Earth to prod their governments for a truly transformative change.  This change must quickly and radically shift from the present business-as-usual mindset that is burning down the Earth, figuratively and literally.  This transformative turn-around must happen in energy generation, food production, transportation, land use, forest and marine restoration, wetland conservation, among others.

Representatives from Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America, Europe, and the Oceania are also sending emails, tweets, and snail mail letters to their heads of States, Members of Parliament, UN Missions and Cabinet Ministers. They demand, in a charming way, that strong, serious, and sustained action be taken to face, and embrace, the climate crisis for themselves and for generations yet unborn.

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