All efforts made to protect children may easily prove futile if people are unable to ensure their children and grandchildren a world in which they can focus on realizing their dreams and do not have to deal with the consequences of climate change caused by adults, President Kersti Kaljulai said in her Children's Day address.
"For as long as we have existed as humanity, we have been driven by the endeavor to ensure a better life for our children than we ourselves have had," Kaljulaid said in her speech. "2.2 billion children worldwide today, however, are growing up with the knowledge that they will have to seriously confront the consequences of climate change that they have inherited."
Climate strikes that have been gaining traction in recent months have been the initiative of children themselves, and tens of thousands of children have come out to spread their message, the president highlighted, adding that the inconvenient truth stated is unbearable for certain social groups, and that it is easier to deny than take responsibility for it.
"Children are most vulnerable when it comes to the consequences of climate change," Kaljulaid said. "Our own children — who are anxiously thinking about the planet they will leave to their children. We, the adults — we must come to your aid. However inconvenient that might be. We must."
There have been attempts to ridicule these climate strikes, and what else can a child do but stand defiantly and look at their parent, she continued.
"We have all seen this look as parents — I am suffering, I am sad, I am worried, why aren't you doing anything?" the president described. "This look should not be responded to with suggestions to get over it, forget it, and get on with life, thus belittling the child's concerns. After all, this is a common paradigm in raising children — a child's concern should not be belittled. This applies to both daily situations as well as climate issues."
If the new generation is hit by hopelessness and helplessness, she emphasized, then something very valuable has been lost for the future.
"Our job as parents, teachers and friends is to make our own contributions to this support," Kaljulaid said. "By encouraging them to think with us, we can hope that the future generation of decision-makers will be smarter than ours, and better equipped with preliminary knowledge. Then they will be better armed to cope with environmental issues. And we ourselves must quickly do what is possible on the current technological level — for our children's sake."
Kaljulaid spoke at the formal Children's Day reception at the Rose Garden at Kadriorg Palace on Saturday, where awards titled "With Children and For Children" were also presented in recognition of those who have gone above and beyond in contributing to the welfare of children and young people.
Editor: Aili Vahtla