The UN has hosted 25 meetings of the Conference of the Parties - the supreme international decision-making forum on climate change - and yet in 2019 global emissions still reached their highest point to date. Something is clearly not working.

Unfortunately across the UN’s operations, inaction and intransigence is the rule rather than the exception. The UN has looked on passively as thousands have been murdered in conflicts. It has routinely elevated states that abuse human rights to their own Human Rights Council. And although the UN has now adopted the “Sustainable Development Goals” many of the targets established under their predecessor - the Millenium Development Goals - were never achieved.

These failings tell the story of an organization that has become staid, corrupt, and exceptionally bureaucratic. Returning to climate: currently for every $1 the UN receives to fight climate breakdown, just 15 cents is actually used for that purpose. The remaining funds go towards talking about climate breakdown - organizing conferences, preparing papers, and flying senior leaders around the world to attend talks and negotiations. While there may once have been a place for discussion, now is the time for action. We stand on the verge of a catastrophe and no amount of negotiation is going to change that.
But we can change the UN.

This year sees the election of the next Secretary-General. This is a landmark opportunity to bring fresh, young, exciting, and diverse voices into the UN - to sweep the corridors of power with a reforming wind and blow out some intransigent cobwebs and fusty ideas.

It’s that hope and promise that has led me to stand in this election. I am not your usual candidate for Secretary-General. I come from a refugee family. I am young, female, and, although I have worked in the UN for several years, I am not an established politician. I am the antithesis of the old elite.

And indeed, the elite seems unwilling to accept my nomination. Despite changing the rules in 2016 to allow self-nominations to the election of SG, senior figures in the organization have yet to acknowledge my candidacy and seem intent on pressing ahead with a coronation of the incumbent SG Antonio Guterres.

They are not only rejecting me but everything I stand for - youth, diversity, change. Together, though, we can sweep them aside with new energy and, in contrast to their intransigence, with our commitment to act.

Who is Arora Akanksha?

Arora Akanksha, Indo-Canadian, 34, is an employee of the United Nations Development Program and wants to challenge António Guterres as UN Secretary-General.

Until today, it has been not accepted in the official selection process because she has not obtained the support of any member state, a necessary condition for the formalization of the candidacy.

Guterres's five-year term, which took over as Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) in January 2017, ends at the end of this year, on December 31.

The United Nations began in February the formal selection process for the organization's next Secretary-General, by asking the 193 member states to submit the names of candidates for the office. So far, no other name has come forward to challenge Guterres.

Portugal has already formalized its support for the reappointment of António Guterres.

A vote for me will be a vote for transformative change.

As Secretary-General I would ensure that at least 25% of all senior positions at the UN are held by people under the age of 30. So often the UN makes a great play of consulting young people on the issues that affect the - climate, education, mental health - without actually changing the way those issues are approached.

That is because consultation is not enough. It is the young people of today who have to live with the consequences of climate breakdown. It is young people who know what it means to go through our education systems - or to be locked out entirely. It is young people who suffer, experience, and grapple with existential fears that have a devastating impact on their mental wellbeing. Those experiences bring invaluable knowledge. They should be designing policy - not called upon to give the occasional commentary.

I would ensure that more women are given prominent positions in the UN hierarchy. And beyond the UN itself, I’d look to reform global education systems so that children are taught the history of gender inequality and helped to understand how they can create a new path towards a gender-inclusive future. I would divert more funding towards coaching, training, and empowering women both at the UN and the world over so that we can unleash the potential of womanhood for the good of humanity.

Lastly, I would refuse to keep discussing an issue that is staring us all in the face: climate breakdown. If I were elected SG, talks would only be held to agree or enforce action and implementation, not targets, goals, and procedures. I would invest heavily in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis and bring tech entrepreneurs into the UN to enable them to share and co-create the technology solutions that will help us to, for example, take carbon out of the atmosphere, refreeze the poles, and employ millions in generating clean and renewable energy.

We are at a genuinely momentous point in the history of humanity. We are exiting the Coronavirus pandemic with the opportunity to create a new future. We face, though, many challenges - each one of them dwarfed by the scale of the climate crisis. If we choose the status quo, we choose to fail. But there is an alternative. We can choose youth, energy, diversity, and hope. We can choose action. We can choose to make a difference.


To read this op-ed in portuguese, click here

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