Youth have a special place at the UN COP talks.  We have had a presence since the UNFCCC was developed in Rio in 1992, but the International Youth movement has only taken off since the Bali Talks in 2007 (COP13).  In this short amount of time, we have gained recognition as a stakeholder in the process, and have gained constituency status. (It means we are accredited NGO observers and are assigned UN photo IDs like this one: 

Most hilarious accreditation badge EVER.


 We are called YOUNGOs (for YOUth NGOs).  There are over 1000 of us in attendance this December, and we have a special role within the COP.  Yvo de Boer, the Secretariat, has called us the moral voice of the UN.  Our presence there reminds our lawmakers of the future that is at stake.  

As such, we try to be as visible as possible.  We hold small demonstrations within the walls of the Bella Center (with the Secretariat’s approval).  We bring energy and color to the conference, and apparently a lot of people really love us for it. 

Here are some of the things we do: 

Today, Indigenous people, the Canadian youth, and American youth collaborated to pull of a protest of Tar Sands.  We did this in a hallway.  It was similar to the earlier event with AOSIS. 

Organic Apple cart guy


Here are some other pictures: 

This guy literally rides around the Bella Center selling apples for a dollar or so.  Even I can afford that!  Although now that I think about that, that’s an obscene amount for just one apple… 

This guy was dressed up as a polar bear and getting his photo taken.  Polar bears are to the natural world what the Maldives are to nations: a poster child for the effects of Global Climate Change.  Both are in danger. 

And this is the Fossil of the Day award, put on by Climate Action Network (CAN).  Every day CAN finds 3 countries who have done something to obstruct the negotiations process and assigns them first, second, and third prize.  So far this year, Canada is winning.  And not only is this fun and creative, but it also is a way of informing people of the outcomes and drawbacks of the day’s negotiations. 



Something I’m supposed to do (and if you look through my blog, you can see that I have done some of this already) is to attract media attention.  One of these methods is to write Letters to the Editor.  I’ve done this several times in the past.  They never get published in the paper, but I do write them.  The most recent one I wrote was to the Cincinnati Enquirer, and they posted it on their online message board (this is not the same thing as having it published in the paper).  This is what I put:

  • I am a UC graduate who will be attending the United Nations’ climate talks in Copenhagen in just a few days as a member of the non-profit SustainUS. As part of SustainUS’ team of 30, I will act as a youth delegate, reminding our policymakers that their actions (or inactions) will have consequences for future generations.
  • I maintain that the Copenhagen climate talks will be of historical importance. Climate change is real; it is dangerous, and it is high time we did something about it as a planet. I urge the public to be cognizant of this issue, and to pressure their lawmakers into action for the sake of the next generation.


That’s kind of inoffensive stuff, right?  Well, right off the bat, three angry people wrote in.  I’ve worked in customer service, and I’m not really sensitive about rude people, right?  But I do wonder what makes these guys tick.  Why all the hate?  And what do these people do with their lives, just sit around on message boards and defame everyone who disagrees with their ideology?  What kind of a life is that to live?

I mean, I’m just a cute and ineffective little young person who wants her policymakers to do the right thing.  I said as much.  People could say, “I support your ambition to make the world a better place” or “I think it’s good for young folks to get involved on big international issues” or even, “You’re a good citizen, going to all this trouble to represent your country”.  Instead, though, so many people just zero in on the phrase “climate change” and then think they have you all figured out.  Imagine that!  Someone who’s never met me in their life and has only read 114 of my electronic words knows all about me, my education level, my political affiliation, my background, and my values.

Due to an inside joke, my mom always reads my entries and thinks I’m pretending to be Michael Jackson because of my false positivity and my generalized statements of affirmation for kids and the younger generation.  No ma’am.  But tonight that’s really true–somewhere in all the hype surrounding Mr. Jackson’s death, I heard him say in an interview, “Don’t judge me unless you’ve talked to me one-on-one.”  That’s it exactly!

The thing I dread most about my line of work is people making assumptions, judging me, and assigning me a label based on their perception of a single thing I say.  I’m a non-controversial person.  I’m not assertive.  I’m a milquetoast, you even might say–I don’t like to put people off or argue with them; I think it’s preferable to build bridges rather than walls.  I’d rather figure things out and solve problems rather than antagonize people.  I guess that’s why I’m working in DIPLOMACY.  That is not to say I don’t have my beliefs and convictions, because I do, or that I won’t stand up for them, because I will.  But that IS to say that I understand that life is multifaceted, with lots of grey areas–and I don’t like to shove my agenda in everyone’s face.

Not everyone thinks like this, though, and they would rather label you as something insulting because you care about the environment (or in Michael Jackson’s case, children) and how it pertains to your personal survival and well being.  Rudeness and meanness doesn’t offend me (judging me does), but it’s something I will never understand.  Where does it come from?  Is it fun, seeing things in black and white all the time?  Do people derive pleasure from electronic name-calling?  Is it satisfying to shove your anger and contempt down the throat of someone who may never actually read your words?  And why did I just waste half an hour trying to figure this out?

The world may never know.

You know who I am.

I’m one of the young people who cares about the state of affairs in this world. I’m one of my nation’s concerned citizens.

In recent years, I have come to recognize the formidable challenges we face in global climate change–as a country and a planet. I love my home, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to it. Ever. Not on my watch. And I’m going to do something about it.

I am one of twenty-five delegates chosen to represent the SustainUS youth movement, which will attend the COP15 climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark this December. We hope to influence our leaders to come to a bold, binding, and equitable solution. We feel that our presence will remind our leaders of just what is at stake: the future, including the lives of their children.

Before I begin, there is one thing about me you must know: I am embarrassingly honest.  So let me tell you the truth about how I got involved in this.

Initially, I wasn’t too sure who SustainUS was and what the organization represented–but I hope you can one-up me by visiting their site here.   In brief, SustainUS is a youth network working to promote sustainable development, both in the US and abroad.  We are prestigious enough to be accredited to the UN.

When they called to tell me I had been chosen as a delegate, I literally wept tears of joy.  Imagine, little old me; I who have never run a campaign in my life and have no formal education in environmental issues.  And to this day, I’m still not sure why I was selected. But I am thrilled to be here. I am honored to represent my country and generation. And I am profoundly grateful to have part in this historic event, and to be able to write about it to the world.

Now.  I will do my best to keep this blog updated, share more information, and answer any questions you might have.  Thank you!!