"Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods and our lives. That is why it is the focus of this year’s International Day of Peace. And it’s why I am convening a Climate Action Summit." — UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
The International Day of Peace was observed on 20 September 2019 at United Nations Headquarters. The programme began with the traditional Peace Bell Ceremony in the Peace Garden. The Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly rang the Peace Bell in the company of United Nations Messengers of Peace Midori Goto and Yo-Yo Ma. Following that was a Student Observance, in which more than 700 high school and university students heard from the Secretary-General. Young people participating in New York, and by video link from the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, presented projects that illustrated how they had taken action to address climate change and thereby foster peace.
The United Nations Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 because they understood that it would not be possible to build a peaceful world if steps were not taken to achieve economic and social development for all people everywhere, and ensure that their rights were protected. The Sustainable Goals cover a broad range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice.
Sustainable Development Goal 13 “Climate Action” is a call for immediate action by all to lower greenhouse emissions, build resilience and improve education on climate change.
Affordable, scalable solutions such as renewable energy, clean technologies are available to enable countries to leapfrog to greener, more resilient economies.
2019 Theme: "Climate Action for Peace"
The theme draws attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world.
Climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security. Natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. The salinization of water and crops is endangering food security, and the impact on public health is escalating. The growing tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country on every continent.
Peace can only be achieved if concrete action is taken to combat climate change. Speaking to young Māoris and people of the Pacific islands in New Zealand in May, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “nature does not negotiate” and emphasized four key measures that Governments should prioritize in order to reach carbon neutrality by 2050: tax pollution, not people; stop subsidizing fossil fuels; stop building new coal plants by 2020; focus on a green economy, not a grey economy.
On 23 September, the United Nations convened a Climate Action Summit with concrete and realistic plans to accelerate action to implement the Paris Agreement. The Summit focused on the heart of the problem – the sectors that create the most emissions and the areas where building resilience could make the biggest difference – as well as provided leaders and partners the opportunity to demonstrate real climate action and showcase their ambition.
In the lead up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, the United Nations called upon all to take action to tackle climate change. Every human is part of the solution - from turning off the lights to taking public transport, to organizing an awareness raising campaign in your community. Share your ideas and activities with us through #PeaceDay and #ClimateAction.
“It is possible to achieve our goals, but we need decisions, political will and transformational policies to allow us to still live in peace with our own climate.” -- Secretary-General António Guterres, 15 May 2019
What can youth do to get involved?
Young people are stepping up to the challenge - close to half a million youth around the world have taken action on climate change in their homes, schools and communities. According to UNFCCC, they are key actors in raising awareness, running educational programmes, promoting sustainable lifestyles, conserving nature, supporting renewable energy, adopting environmentally-friendly practices and implementing adaptation and mitigation projects.
Why do we mark International Days?
International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. More information available here.