SECRETARY BLINKEN: Mr. President, thank you very much. And now it’s a true pleasure and honor to introduce another leader: climate activist Xiye Bastida.
Xiye grew up in the town of San Pedro Tultepec, in Mexico. She’s a member of the Otomi-Toltec Nation. She’s experienced first-hand the devastating impact of climate crisis.
When she was just 11 years old, her town was hit by back-to-back years of climate-driven drought. Then the intense rains came. And then the floods. Her family was displaced, and she and her parents relocated to the United States, to New York.
These dramatic swings in extreme weather are just one of the consequences of the climate crisis we’re already experiencing across the world, including here in the United States, where, at the same time as Xiye’s town was experiencing droughts and floods, the American Southwest was in the middle of the worst drought since the 16th century.
After relocating to New York, Xiye came face to face with another impact of the climate crisis in the lasting damage left by Superstorm Sandy. Wherever she went, she saw how changes driven by climate were hurting communities.
So Xiye joined the Fridays for the Future movement and was one of the young activists who led their fellow students and people of all ages to strike in order to wake up the world to the impacts of the climate emergency and to call on leaders like us to take action, before it’s too late.
In the time since, she has given much of herself the climate justice effort. She mobilized 600 students from her school to join the March 2019 climate strike; she led a push for legislative change in her city and state; she launched a youth activism training program; she addressed the United Nations.
For Xiye, this isn’t a hobby; it’s a way of life.
Xiye is part of a rising generation of leaders who are pushing us to make the necessary changes that we have put off for too long. She and her fellow young leaders have earned a seat at the table, not just because they will bear more of the consequences of climate change, or the world’s inaction on climate, but also because of the urgency, ingenuity, and total dedication that they have brought to this effort.
We’ve asked a lot of our young people; they’re delivering. Now it’s time we ask more of ourselves.
Xiye comes from a line of environmental activists. Her grandparents fought for decades to protect her indigenous nation’s sacred lands in Mexico. Her parents were environmental advocates, too. Something Xiye’s father told her continues to guide her activism to this day, and I quote: “Leave everything better than you found it.”
That’s also our responsibility. It’s what this summit is all about, and it’s the underlying purpose behind all that we must do – in this crucial year, in this decisive decade.
If we act together, we can turn the need to reduce our emissions and adapt our communities into once-in-generations opportunity – to improve the lives of our people and build more just, equitable, and sustainable societies.
Xiye, thank you. Thank you for all you’ve done to leave everything better than you found it. We’re humbled and inspired by your service, and now we look forward to hearing from you.