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Indigenous Youth Building Climate Justice Movement by Targeting Colonialism

"Climate change is the defining issue of our time." These urgent words came from 16-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, a young Indigenous man raised in the Aztec tradition, at a United Nations General Assembly event on climate change held on June 29, 2015. Roske-Martinez is the youth director for Earth Guardians, a nonprofit organization centered on galvanizing global youth leadership to defend the planet for current and future generations. He is mobilizing youth through school-based presentations, legal challenges, eco hip-hop and public talks -- elevating the voices of young people near and far and empowering them to become forces of change in their own right.

Upon learning the federal courts upheld the rights of youth on April 8, 2016, in alandmark constitutional climate change case brought forward by Our Children's Trust (representing 21 youth plaintiffs) against the US federal government and fossil fuel industry, Roske-Martinez made the following public statement:

When those in power stand alongside the very industries that threaten the future of my generation instead of standing with the people, it is a reminder that they are not our leaders. The real leaders are the twenty youth standing with me in court to demand justice for my generation and justice for all youth. We will not be silent, we will not go unnoticed, and we are ready to stand to protect everything our "leaders" have failed to fight for. They are afraid of the power we have to create change. And this change we are creating will go down in history.

And change things they will.

ILO in Asia and the Pacific

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