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Meet 3 Young Leaders Stepping up for Climate Action

By Marisa Umeh

September 25, 2018
As members of the human race, it is our prerogative to constantly engage in movements, be a part of conversations, and listen to personal narratives that remind us of our global citizenship.

I spoke with an inspiring group of young individuals from all corners of the globe that I had the honor of connecting with at a Global Climate Action Summit affiliate event hosted by NextGen. Here’s what they had to say:




"We don't have time to spend waiting for someone else to find a solution."


Caleb Padilla, El Salvador

Founder and President at Un Pulmón Más & World Economic Forum World Shaper

Caleb-Padilla-Cerro-Tecana 

Me:
Can you detail your work advocating for climate activism in El Salvador?

Caleb: My organization organizes clean ups in cities, forest, mountains and oceans. We are strong advocates of reforestation and conservation efforts. Our work in El Salvador is extremely difficult because our government is preoccupied with problems like corruption, violence, and emigration.

Me: What insight will you take from GCAS to transform your community?

Caleb: I have left GCAS with a sense of urgency. We don't have time to spend waiting for someone else to find a solution. As youth, we will, we can, and we must do it!



"The main barrier that I have faced is the government’s lack of plans to let the refugees return to their hometowns and the lack of environmental awareness within the society."


Lawk Ghafuri, Kurdistan

Livelihood Project Officer at REACH Iraq, Global Shapers at World Economic Forum

gcas_mu2
Me: 
Can you give a brief overview about your work in Kurdistan?

Lawk: As a livelihood and rehabilitation officer, I assist refugees in achieving financial independence by helping them establish micro-businesses. Additionally, I am working on a project to assist refugees in returning to their homes by providing solar panel systems.

Me: What barriers have you faced in advocating for sustainability?

Lawk: The main barrier that I have faced is the government’s lack of plans to let the refugees return to their hometowns and the lack of environmental awareness within the society. These conditions have catalyzed me to kick off many campaigns to motivate young people to advocate for climate activism in Kurdistan. The GCAS summit showed me how crucial it is that the government, especially in the Middle East, plays a key role in raising awareness rather than working independently.

Caleb: I have left GCAS with a sense of urgency. We don't have time to spend waiting for someone else to find a solution. As youth, we will, we can, and we must do it!



"If the planet were a patient, we'd be busting our guts to improve its health."


Katherine Middleton, Australia

National Project Coordinator of the Environment and Health Project of the Australian Medical Students Association

gcas_mu3

Me:
 Please give a brief overview about your work in Australia.

Katherine: My role is National Project Coordinator of the Environment and Health project of the Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA Code Green.) Our concerns surround the way climate change is going to affect the health of our future patients, and how the healthcare sector can participate in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Me: Can you elaborate on how your childhood influenced your advocacy?

Katherine: Growing up, the livelihood of the people surrounding me depended on the land. I grew up on a tiny farm by most standards, 450km north of Perth.

Attending college, most of my friends were farmers’ kids. We often conversed about the drought and its effects on our families. If the planet were a patient, we’d be busting our guts to improve its health. Collectively, medical students, as recognized leaders in the community, have become advocates for action on climate change, to alleviate its impacts on health. This is my way—this is our way—of helping my family, friends, and future patients, improving their health and the health of the planet.






About the Author: 


Marisa Umeh is a guest writer for the United Nations Association of the USA, selected from a competitive pool of applicants to serve as a UNA-USA 2018 Global Climate Action Summit Fellow. To learn more about UNA-USA fellowships and opportunities, subscribe to our mailing list

About the Summit: 

The Global Climate Action Summit will bring leaders and people together from around the world to “Take Ambition to the Next Level.” It will be a moment to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of states, regions, cities, companies, investors and citizens with respect to climate action. It will also be a launchpad for deeper worldwide commitments and accelerated action from countries—supported by all sectors of society—that can put the globe on track to prevent dangerous climate change and realize the historic Paris Agreement. To relive the action, watch recorded sessions and behind-the-scenes interviews from the recorded livestream

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