Mongolian girl at UN with her flag

Tackling air pollution and climate change in Mongolia

By Nomundari, 14, young leader from Mongolia (Twitter: @Nomunda48381804)

A lot of adults think that kids can’t do anything. But a lot of kids have experienced things, things that even adults can’t imagine. Being here at the UN and representing other children from Mongolia is important to me because I’m proving to the adults that kids are worth listening to.

I think that adults need to spend more time telling kids about the issues, and sharing with us what they’re doing. I didn’t know that adults were actually talking about climate change until I was preparing for the events this week. The UN has been hosting conferences about climate change! I didn’t know that, and I think lots of other children didn’t either.

Climate change is something that affects us all, perhaps more than any other issue. In Mongolia, we still have coal power plants, and during the winter the pollution is terrible. Some people have masks, but they don’t help much and many children get sick. My little sister and I both have, my cousin and her daughter…most of the kids I know. And because our lungs aren’t fully formed it affects us worse. A couple years ago I was even hospitalized from the effects of the air pollution. I spent a month in hospital, being woken up every five hours for all kinds of shots.

Climate change is making the problem even worse, as our winters get colder and we need to burn more coal to stay warm. People get coughs from the cold, and then the air pollution makes that worse. It’s all connected.

It’s important to teach children about climate change and air pollution and the things that affect us.

Grownups need to let us know what they’re doing and find ways for us to participate too, because our generation will eventually take over this world. At the high level political forum at the UN this week, I’d like to know what leaders are planning to do to make this world better for us. We need you to address things like climate change or violence against children.

It’s the time for action now. I went to a session yesterday at the UN, and adults were talking about plans and needing to do things, but not about actually doing things. We need to swap from coal and change our power plants if we’re going to keep kids from getting sick and the climate from getting worse. Right now adults are underestimating everything – both children, and the scale of the climate problem. It’s important to tackle things now when they are smaller. Otherwise things are only going to get worse.