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Youth urged to bolster green development

By HOU LIQIANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-23 10:30
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Experts from home and abroad have called for more resolute and proactive contributions from youth to bolster green development.

Andrea Meza Murillo, deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, stressed land restoration as a major solution to mitigate global warming, and the benefits that efforts on the issue can bring to youth.

"The window of opportunity to avoid the worst-case climate change scenario is closing. Land restoration can be a cost-effective climate solution," Murillo said at the Thematic Forum for Climate Action and Green Development, which was co-organized by the All-China Youth Federation and Tsinghua University in Beijing on Friday.

"But only if we act now, if we manage well, could land provide an important solution for up to 30 percent of the mitigation required to ensure global warming stays below 1.5 C towards 2050."

Restoring land can bring multiple benefits for people and nature. The restoration of 1 billion hectares of degraded land by 2030, an area the size of China, will cut land-based emissions massively, increase food production and avoid further loss of biodiversity, she noted.

"What's more, investment in restoration will generate opportunities for land-based businesses and jobs for you. The new restoration economy could generate more than 70 million jobs in the food and agriculture sector alone by 2030," she said. "These jobs will be available for the millions of young people in the coming years and decades."

Noting efforts the UNCCD has been making to assist youth in their land restoration endeavors, Murillo said the youth are the ones who can bring the energy, talent, cutting-edge skills, innovation and creativity to this sector. "We count on your leadership to protect, manage and restore the land," she said.

Razan Al Mubarak, president of International Union for Conservation of Nature, said it's been estimated that the world is losing 10,000 species per year and 80 percent of the loss happens due to habitat loss primarily driven by agriculture.

Mankind needs to change its way of producing food, living and working to protect the nature that we very much depend on, she said.

"I'm of a former generation that is taking decisions for a future that I won't be a part of, but the consequences of my generation's decisions will be felt by the youth of today," she stressed. "We need to build and bridge the gap between the generations and benefit from this collective wisdom."

"There is much hope for a better future, but not much time," Mubarak stressed. "Youth must collectively agree on your vision for the future and the place you want nature to have in that future. It's critical that youth are given the platform to conceptualize this vision."

Xu Xiao, vice-chairman of All-China Youth Federation, also called for joint actions to address the global crises of climate change and ecosystem degradation.

"As a group that will benefit the most in green development, the youth should resolutely throw themselves into the endeavors of building a clean and beautiful new world," he said.

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