Gizem Oner: “We, as the young generation, need to come together and raise our voice”

16 Sep 2021

Gizem Oner: “We, as the young generation, need to come together and raise our voice”

Gizem Oner is a 25-year-old Cypriot activist with a passion for environmental sustainability and a vision that seeks to build a better world for future generations.

In August this year, she joined the UN Youth Champions for Environment and Peace programme to raise her voice and advocate for environmental problems, human and animal rights. 

“I decided to participate in this program because of my passion for sustainability. I believe there are lot of things that need to be improved on our island. If we start collaborating on a common cause, like our environment, I believe it would make peacebuilding efforts easier,” she said.  

When asked about the interaction with other UN Youth Champions as well as environment experts from across the island and abroad, she recalls one of the reasons for joining the initiative: “I wanted to meet like-minded people from both sides of the island and experts from this field. Listening to environmental peacebuilding efforts was very inspiring and the best part of the programme.”

She added that the experience gained from the program was enlightening, valuable and promising for the future. “I am very glad and honoured to be chosen as one of the UN Youth Champions and I think we need to have more programs like this one that include not only young adults, but also every generation,” she stated. 

When asked what it meant to be a UN Youth Champion, Gizem was proud to acknowledge the power of young people: “We, as the young generation, need to come together and raise our voice, so we can leave a better Cyprus for future generations.” 

Building on the 2020 programme “UNFICYP Youth Champions for Environment and Peace”, and in collaboration with the British Council through the COOPower project this year's edition offered to 25 young people a 2-week intense focus on Environmental Peacebuilding and Social Entrepreneurship. 

Together with experts and mentors from Cyprus and abroad, participants learned about the island’s environmental challenges and developed ideas for social enterprises to address environmental problems that benefit both the people and the planet.