Emerging Leaders Program Recap: Champions for the Earth

Several UNA-USA student leaders and young professionals spent this Fall participating in UNA-USA’s Emerging Leaders Fellowship. The fellowship offers the opportunity for young UNA-USA members to gain new leadership skills and professional development while engaging in advocacy training for the Global Goals. This year’s theme was “Champions for the Earth,” and focused on climate action. At the end of the cohort, fellows developed their own action plans designed to encourage climate action in their local communities. Here is a recap of each session along with recordings of the webinars so that you too can affect change!


Session #1: Climate Action & the 2030 Agenda

The new Emerging Leaders Fellows spent the first few minutes of the session introducing themselves discussing and how their individual passions lead them to advocate for climate action. Next, UNA-USA’s Youth Engagement Manager, Anna Mahalak, educated the fellows on how climate action fits into the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for the SDGs. The fellows learned that the UN is calling for multilateralism and concrete plans from each member state. The session ended with a discussion on climate change’s impact in each fellow’s local community. Watch the recording here.


Session #2: Climate Action at the UN

Session 2 began with a talk by special guest speaker Brian Mateo, Asst. Dean for Civic Engagement at Bard College. Brian spoke about how climate change negatively impacts human development and the completion of the 2030 Agenda, including, access to education, health, and gender equity. After his talk, the fellows learned about what the UN is doing to stop climate change. They focused on the recent climate talks held by the UN, including this September’s Youth Climate Summit. Click here to watch the recording.

  • Assignments:
    • Identify a climate action-related issue you would like to work on for your project and post about it in the Facebook group
    • Review a UN treaty or resolution, or a piece of legislation in your state, that addresses climate change and present about it on the next call


Session #3: Event Planning & Cultivating Partnerships

For session 3, fellows heard from special guest speaker Steve Tebbe who works for the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of states pledging to uphold the objectives of the Paris Agreement. He spoke about how local and state-wide climate action ties into the work of the UN and the completion of the Global Goals. Next, the fellows discussed the benefits of partnering with fellow youth organizations, school administrations, and local NGOs on advocacy issues. The session ended with a lesson on effective event planning. Fellows learned the importance of narrowing down their advocacy topics and finding meaningful ways to get local community members involved. Watch the recording here.

  • Assignments:
    • Identify 3 local organizations to partner with and share in the Facebook group
    • Discuss what your chapter is doing for UN Day around the theme “Our Planet. Our Future.”


Session #4: Youth Solutions to the Climate Crisis

The fourth webinar session focused on why it is so hard to motivate people to fight for climate action, and how to solve this issue. The UN Foundation’s Communications Officer, Chandler Green, spoke to the fellows about best practices for communicating with individuals, encouraging them to focus on local implications and immediate solutions. Next, Anna Mahalak led a discussion on youth activism, giving the fellows examples of successful youth climate movements, such as Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate and the Sunrise Movement. The webinar is available here.


This Fall’s Emerging Leaders Fellows are a dedicated group of climate activists, and we cannot wait to see them use the skills they learned to affect local and global change!