The two nights before young climate activists met at the United Nations over the weekend, an art installation projected onto the world body’s New York City headquarters called attention to youth perspectives highlighted in this year’s General Assembly.
Voices for the Future was projected on the General Assembly and Secretariat buildings on Thursday and Friday nights, as world leaders began arriving ahead of Monday’s Climate Action Summit.
Created by New Zealand artist Joseph Michael, the multimedia display also showcases the climate narratives of six youth activists – from as many continents – who represent the six official UN languages: English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, French and Chinese.
“English is often seen as the language that will solve climate change,” Michael told Al Jazeera, referring to the global nature of the problem, and the need for solutions on every continent. “But the reality is that it’s not.”
He added that global change had to come from economic transformation away from fossil fuels and increasing investment in alternative energy.
The installation’s stories began with video footage from Antarctica, the eerie booms of glaciers collapsing into the sea ringing out.
“The audience experiences up close the beauty, size and sound of a colossal iceberg,” said the press release accompanying the event. “Together with the messages from the younger generation, [we] transform the UN into a glowing beacon, highlighting the … need to preserve our world for future generations and the critical decisions to be made at the summit”.
Produced as a collaboration between the nonprofit environmental organisation Project Pressure and the Permanent Mission of New Zealand to the UN, the installation highlighted calls for political commitments to reverse global warming – as global youth protested on Friday and as young Swedish environmental advocate Greta Thunberg gathered with fellow activists at the UN on Saturday.