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A Summit for Young Climate Leaders


By Margot Le Guen

We created CliMates in 2011. Our dream was to find new ways for youth worldwide to work together on climate change, an issue that will inevitably affect us all.

In less than a year, CliMates grew into a network of several hundred students and young professionals across all continents and from different academic backgrounds. Today, CliMates is a think-and-do-tank whose members are determined to contribute to a paradigm shift in how societies address climate and environmental issues.

Since its creation, CliMates has organized international events gathering members of its network every year: After the first International Summit in Paris in 2012 (see video here) which resulted in the publication of the CliMates Call for Action – a list of projects and solutions that CliMates would implement –, the Regional Workshop in Bogota sparked the launch of a regional network of climate activists strong of 40 youth from Latin America and the Caribbean. They now now brainstorm together on climate policy issues at the regional level, and coordinate advocacy and lobbying efforts.

Participants discuss the launch of a research project on Clean Development Mechanisms at the first CliMates International Summit, Paris, October 2012.
Participants discuss the launch of a research project on Clean Development Mechanisms at the first CliMates International Summit, Paris, October 2012.

This year, the 2nd CliMates International Summit will take place in New York City from Aug. 25-29. This five-day event will experiment with new ways to educate and train participants, introducing them to new approaches to dealing with climate issues. The summit’s goal will be to build capacity and help youth increase their personal networks in order to foster new projects on climate change.

The 2nd CliMates International Summit, which will be held at Columbia University, is designed to be innovative in both its content and format: Thematic workshops will address topics on which we believe community-driven research can bring groundbreaking progress. For example, speakers from the Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative will co-facilitate a collaborative workshop on Climate Change and Vulnerable Populations with one of our participants from the Democratic Republic of Congo – an activist for human rights in the context of environmental challenges – in order to lay the foundations of new research or awareness-raising projects based on peer-to-peer learning and expert input.

However, the summit aspires to bring more than just an experience in the class-room: Field visits will provide empirical knowledge – such as to Rockaway Beach, during which CliMates will engage with local residents about the impacts of Hurricane Sandy – while artistic and creative activities, such as those offered by the Superhero Clubhouse, will be an excellent way to develop new ties between youth and stakeholders from different professional and academic backgrounds.

These are the goals that a group of 50 future climate leaders will have in mind from Aug. 25-29 in New York City. For more information on events open to the public, check our website, and follow us on Twitter (@climatessummit) and on Facebook (/climatesnycsummit).

Margot Le Guen is a senior research staff assistant with the Financial Instruments Sector Team at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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