Youth, climate and nuclear disarmament – new initiatives

Youth movements for climate action, peace and nuclear disarmament have sprung up in Europe and around the world in the past few years as young people have become concerned about existential threats to current and future generations, and increasingly frustrated at the insufficient action by governments to address these threats.

In this article we highlight the recent United Nations resolution on Youth, disarmament and non-proliferation, the new UN resource on Disarmament and You(th), and initiatives/events of the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign, Abolition 2000 Youth Network, Basel Peace Office & PNND linking youth actions and voices on climate, peace and nuclear disarmament.

UN adopts resolution on Youth, disarmament and non-proliferation

On December 12, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on Youth, disarmament and non-proliferation. It calls on governments, UN agenices and civil society to educate, engage and empower youth in the fields of disarmament and non-proliferation.

The resolution was introduced by the Republic of Korea and co-sponsored by 42 additional governments including a mix of nuclear-armed, nuclear allied and non-nuclear countries. As such, it provides impetus for non-governmental organisations to develop youth-focused and youth-led programs in cooperation with the United Nations and with the support of their governments.

Granny Peace Brigade with School Strike 4 Climate students at Count the Nuclear Weapons Money in front of the Unired Nations

Youth move the nuclear weapons money (to better purposes)

From October 24-30, 2019 (UN Disarmament Week), a team of volunteers (mostly youth) in New York City counted out $542 billion – the approximate global nuclear weapons budget for the next five years – and symbolically reallocated this to climate protection, poverty alleviation and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The action, part of the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign, was initiated by the World Future Council and organised by Peace Accelerators, a youth-led network of ‘ethical futurists and entrepreneurs’ working for a sustainable future.

The money was counted in various locations around the city including;

Young activists are also promoting the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign through social media memes – short quotes from youth on the issue with their photos.

Youth and divestment from fossil fuels and nuclear weapons

Move the Nuclear Weapons Money is also building connection and cooperation between young activists advancing fossil fuel and nuclear weapons divestment from funds held by universities, cities, states and federal governments. These include endowment, pension and soveriegn wealth funds.

Youth played a leading role, for example, in the 2019 international conference in Basel on divestment and other actions by cities, universities, parliaments and religious institutions to reverse the nuclear arms race and protect the climate.

Maaike Beenes, researcher for Don’t Bank on the Bomb, presenting at the Basel conference.

Youth voices on climate, peace and nuclear disarmament

The Basel Peace Office and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament have initiated a new project Youth voices on climate, peace and nuclear disarmament, in cooperation with the Abolition 2000 Youth Network. The project includes:

For further information contact Chaimae Sebbani, Basel Peace Office Youth Programs coordinator.


Aisha Mubarak, a student at American University in Prague, gives a short video statement on climate, peace and security issues for the Youth Voices video project.

UN resource Disarmament and You(th)

The United Nations Office in Geneva has recently released a new resource Disarmament and You(th). The resource follows up on recent UN initiatives relating to disarmament and the role of youth. These include:

Disarmament and You(th) includes and introduction by Anja Kaspersen, Director of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) in Geneva, and sections on how youth can stay informed, express themselves, organise events, advocate for disarmament and create a community of changemakers. The publication complements other UNODA resources for youth available at UN Disarmament and Youth.

“ I hope you will use your power and your connections to advocate for a peaceful world free from nuclear weapons, in which weapons are controlled and regulated and resources are directed towards opportunity and prosperity for all. ”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking at the launch of Securing our Common Future at the University of Geneva, May 24, 2018.