13 September 2023 - Nepal, New York

Giant white bear and teen activist travel from Nepal to New York to campaign for action on global goals

Anuska the child campaigner and the giant white air bear

Anuska, a child activist from Nepal with Saathi the Air Bear. Photo credit: Save the Children 

UNITED NATIONS, 13 Sept 2023 –A giant white teddy bear has travelled from Nepal to New York with a child campaigner to draw attention to the impact of air pollution on children and push world leaders attending the global goals summit to take action to protect children’s futures.  

The bear, known as Saathi the "Air Bear” in Nepal, has been travelling with climate activists around Nepal in a truck for the past six months to highlight the impact of air pollution. 

Saathi, which means 'friend or buddy' in Nepali, had the colour of its fur monitored over its journey while meeting policymakers, entertainers and visiting schools and. During its journey, Saathi’s fur has gone from a bright white to a dark grey.  

The bear will be accompanied at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Weekend in New York by child activist, 17-year-old Anuska, who will speak about the pressing need for substantive progress by governments to advance the globally agreed goals, including the goal to protect the planet so it can support present and future generations.  

The latest update of the Air Quality Life Index from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago estimated that air pollution is the most significant threat to human health in Nepal, reducing life expectancy by 4.6 years on average. Nepal is ranked as the third most polluted country globally after Bangladesh and India. Air pollution is also linked to respiratory diseases, heart problems, and even cognitive impairment in children. 

Saathi was unstuffed before being packed into a suitcase and travelling over 12,000 km (7,500 miles) with Anuska from Kathmandu to New York, the longest journey yet for both bear and activist.  

Anuska’s journey as a climate activist began at the age of 13 when her love of nature and her mother’s involvement in social work and environmental activities inspired her to take action to combat the climate crisis. She started participating in conferences and Model United Nations events, eventually winning a National Speech Competition on the topic of youth and children's roles in climate action.  

In the lead up to the summit, Anuska said: 

Children are among the most vulnerable groups to the climate crisis, and we need to discuss how climate change imperils children's rights and the prospects of future generations. Our future hangs in the balance due to climate change. 

My message at the SDG Summit will underscore the significance of world leaders attuning themselves to the lived experiences of children, rather than basing their decisions on perspectives unfamiliar to children.”  

Ayush Joshi, Director for Advocacy, Campaigns, Communications, and Media (ACCM) at Save the Children in Nepal, said:  

"The post-COVID-19 era has witnessed setbacks in achieving many of the sustainable development targets. Despite commendable governmental efforts, we believe that all stakeholders must break away from 'business as usual' and commit to urgent transformative changes. This shift is vital to dismantle the structural and political barriers that have obstructed progress toward realizing the ambitious agenda agreed to by governments in 2015.  

We look forward to the SDG Summit embracing a renewed commitment to expediting progress toward the SDGs, especially in collaboration that prioritizes the well-being of children, that too, with and for children." 

The Air Bear initiative is part of Save the Children’s ''Generation Hope' campaign that aims to raise awareness of the impact of the climate crisis that is threatening the future, survival, learning, and safety of children. 

Save the Children helped shape the SDGs and the accompanying 2030 Agenda, which recognizes children as agents of change. The SDGs were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At their heart was an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership.  



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