By NYC Junior Ambassador Fatoumata Cisse
Editor’s Note: Today, November 20, marks World Children’s Day. On this day — the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child — children around the world come together to speak out for their rights, help save other children’s lives, and ensure that children everywhere have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
The Mayor’s Office for International Affairs and NYC Children’s Cabinet are partnering with UNICEF to celebrate World Children’s Day in New York City. As part of this effort, children across the city are being encouraged to “take over” high-profile institutions, activities and events to shine a spotlight on the most pressing challenges faced by their generation.
Fatoumata Cisse is a 13-year-old climate activist from the South Bronx and alumna of the NYC Junior Ambassadors program. She participated in World Children’s Day by speaking at UNICEF’s special event at UN Headquarters, and “taking over” as Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs.
The NYC Junior Ambassadors program is an initiative of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs focused on empowering 7th graders across all five boroughs to become actively engaged with the United Nations by leveraging New York City’s unique position as host city to the UN headquarters. NYC Junior Ambassadors learn to see themselves as global citizens by using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the primary lens for understanding the work of the UN and related global issues, so that they can begin to take action locally starting in their own neighborhoods.
Watch the video of Fatoumata’s day as Commissioner, and read below her remarks at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on World Children’s Day.
Remarks delivered by Fatoumata Cisse at UNICEF World Children’s Day event at UN Headquarters
As you’ve heard, my name is Fatoumata Cisse and I’m an 8th grader at Hyde Leadership Charter School located in the South Bronx. I’m part of the New York City Junior Ambassadors Program by the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, which gets youth involved in the work of the United Nations. And I also strongly believe that every child should have the right to a good life and a voice in this world.
I also believe that protecting our environment and life below the water are important for a good life for all, but especially for children. We can reverse climate change and protect our oceans. But it requires that we all work together.
This is exactly what my classmates and I did through the NYC Junior Ambassadors program. My first trip to the United Nations transformed me and I became dedicated to learning as much as I could about the SDGs. Each student in my class also adopted an SDG and helped raise awareness and action around the chosen goal. I chose SDG14 and also SDG13. I’ve always been intrigued by the beauty of the environment including marine life. As someone who used to suffer from asthma, clean air is very important to me.
My passion for these topics has expanded greatly as a NYC Junior Ambassador. I’ve learned many wonderful and tragic things about our environment, our oceans and water supplies. I have made it my life mission to spread the word about the impacts that we have on them.
Children worldwide — we are lucky to be growing up in a time where the world has agreed to solve some big problems by 2030. I am thrilled to pledge my commitment and those of other NYC Junior Ambassadors like me to the SDGs and to taking actions to bring us closer to the 2030 promise for a better world. We hope you will also pledge to live the SDGs daily!
The great Nelson Mandela said that “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” I agree, so world leaders — make sure you involve us when making decisions!
As I conclude, I want to share my wish for children worldwide with you: “I wish for a world where children can breathe clean air, a world without climate disasters. I wish for every child the opportunity to swim in clean beaches, rivers, and oceans.”
Thank you and let’s take over the world!