Vinisha Umashankar, a schoolgirl from Tamil Nadu, addressed the World Leaders' Summit of the COP26 conference in Glasgow, on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, calling the world to act and save the planet. The conference began on October 31, 2021 and will continue till November 12, 2021.
The 15-year-old was the finalist of Prince William's inaugural Earthshot Prize for creating the world's first solar-powered ironing cart project and was part of the Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment.
This was the first time the finalists met with some of the Global Alliance, a network of philanthropists, NGOs and some of the world's biggest companies and brands representing 3.6 million employees globally that together will help support and scale the innovative and ground-breaking solutions developed by all 15 finalists.
In the words of Vinisha Umashankar
“Here at the World Leaders' Summit, I am not here to talk about the future. I am the future. By 2030, when we have halved our carbon emissions I will be 24 years old. By 2050 when we assess whether the net zero has been achieved or not, I will be in my early 40s and by 2100, hopefully still going strong at 94. The point is that me and my generation will live to see the consequences of our actions today yet none of what we discussed today seems practical to me. You are deciding whether or not we will have a chance to live in a habitable world. You are deciding whether or not we are worth fighting for, worth supporting and worth caring. Many of my generation are angry and frustrated at leaders who have made empty promises and failed to deliver. We have every reason to be angry but I have no time for anger. I want to act. I am not just a girl from India, but a girl from earth and I am proud to be so. I am also a student, innovator, environmentalist and entrepreneur but most importantly I am an optimist. Today we ask with all due respect that we stop talking and start doing. We the Earthshot prize winners and finalists need you to back up our innovations, projects and solutions. Not an economy built on fossil fuels, smoke and pollution. We need to stop thinking about old debates because we need a new vision for a new future. So you need to invest your time, effort and money in us to shape our future. Earthshot Prize winners and finalists are proof that the greatest challenge in the history of our Earth is also the greatest opportunity.”
Watch Vinisha Umashankar's adress at COP26
Umashankar had made the shortlist for the GBP 1 million Earthshot Prize within the Clean Our Air category with her concept of a solar-powered clean alternative to the charcoal-powered street irons that press clothes for millions of Indians each day. She invited world leaders, international organisations, civil society, and business leaders to stand with her generation and back the innovations, solutions and projects working to repair the planet and join the next generation in taking action.