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First Indian teen at UN climate change summit

india Updated: Sep 23, 2009 08:30 IST
Sangeeta Pandey

“If you have all the answers, why do we have so many questions?”

This was what 16-year-old school student and environment activist Yugratna Srivastava asked more than 100 world leaders at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change in New York on Tuesday.

The class IX student from this city was India’s first teenager to address a UN summit. The young activist whose interest in the environment began with the anti-polythene campaign, was representing the world’s 3 billion youths and children.

She made it from St Fidelis College in Lucknow to the UN summit after 1,200 environment-conscious children from various countries elected her in Norway last year to represent the world’s youths and children at the summit.

Yugratna took the podium amidst a big applause. She said she was representing Tarumitra (Friends of Trees), a students’ organisation networking in more than 1,600 high schools and colleges in India. “We need to think about the earth and its inhabitants when we think about our future. This is the time for action. Please do something before we might regret about it,” she said in her speech.

The summit was the largest gathering of world leaders on climate change and was attended by US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and others. India was represented by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

The summit Yugratna addressed was part of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s efforts to evolve a global consensus on a fair and ratifiable greenhouse gas reduction agreement at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark this year.

Yugratna was not available for comment but her father Alok Kumar Srivastava, a reader of Botany at a government college was happy about his daughter’s achievement. “My wife and I have always inculcated the values of serving the country in our daughter. I am proud she is doing it so successfully,” he said in Lucknow.

Asked how he plans to welcome his daughter back home, her father said, “With a warm hug and smile. She has done all of us so proud.”