BTS at the UN. Credit: @BTS_official on Twitter
On September 20, the boy band BTS joined South Korean President Moon Jae In for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Moment at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“Since BTS represents the younger generation and many young people relate to them, I believe they can spread awareness and empathy,” Mr Moon said.
The event focussed on 17 SDGs, which are an urgent call for action by all countries, developed and developing.
President Moon said the expectation of BTS speaking at the UN is to engage a broader audience and make young people more aware of what the UN’s goals are for the future. “If we achieve that goal, it means a happier life for future generations,” he said. Prior to BTS speaking at the UN, the group tweeted to urge young people around the world to tell their stories, launching their new campaign “Youth Today, Your Stories”.
Sustainable Development Goals “further out of reach”
One of the 17 SDGs is climate action, which BTS addressed in their speech.
After various youth took part in their campaign, the group was flooded with fans sharing moments with nature.
“I think during these two years, they found dear the time they experienced care for nature,” Jimin, said in their speech.
“But maybe because we feel an encroaching sense of dread that our time on this earth is limited,” J-Hope said.
Global emissions need to be cut to 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, according to the UN Economic and Social Council.
In 2014, 70 developing countries’ emissions alone rose by 14.4 per cent, and developed countries had 6.2 per cent lower emissions in 2019 than 2010.
“We’ve been unconsciously using disposable cups and straws, but when I saw them [teenagers] bring tumblers everyday, I was surprised at how environmentally conscious many of them are,” BTS leader RM said when asked about what they can do to encourage fans in combating the climate crisis.
RM, who is also known for his love for plants, had his birthday a week before the UN conference, which the fans celebrated by planting trees and trending the hashtag #PlantForNamjoon on Twitter.
Vaccine inequality burgeons in underdeveloped countries
BTS speak at the UN General Assembly Hall. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak
The BTS members also said it was “a time for them to mourn” when they talked about the past 18 months of the pandemic.
“There were times during the past two years when I, too, felt bewildered and troubled, but still people cry out ‘Let’s live on, let’s make the best of this moment’,” Jin said.
“The vaccination efforts are continuously underway to keep this new reality going forward, and I think the day we can meet again face to face is not far away,” V said.
The pandemic also brought forward the socioeconomic problems the UN is trying to solve, especially in terms of vaccine inequality in underdeveloped countries.
According to the World Health Organisation, low-economy countries can’t reserve vaccines because most of the supplies are getting reserved for wealthy countries, which risks prolonging the pandemic and widening global inequality.
“I hope we don’t just consider the future as grim darkness. We have people who are concerned for the world and searching for answers. There are still many pages left in the story about us and I think that we shouldn’t talk like the ending’s already been written,” V said.