The Youth Climate Leaders Program Debuts in Paris

In July, the Paris Center hosted a day-long workshop with the Youth Climate Leaders (YCL) program, an initiative developed by SIPA alumna Cassia Moraes. This inspiring program, which won the 2017 MIT Climate CoLab Contest and was presented to President Obama, aims to build the next generation of climate leaders by providing them with the unique opportunity “learn more about climate change in theory, understand it in practice, and work on hands-on projects with other young people.”

October 16, 2018

In Paris, the forty YCL participants, aged between 18-35 years and drawn from five continents, met with key local organizations, universities and community leaders to tackle critical subjects such as: climate justice and human rights, food waste and hunger, and the reduction of carbon emissions from transportation.

Speakers at the Paris workshop included: Lola Vallejo from the Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI), who gave a presentation on climate finance; Dr. Caroline Zickgraf of the Hugo Observatory at the University of Liège, who spoke about climate change and migration; YCL Partnerships Director, Flávia Bellaguarda, who introduced the issue of climate justice; and, Marcos Szrajer from the NGO Stop Hunger, who discussed strategies to eliminate food waste.

Climate leaders at the UN

Program participants spent the next few days visiting international organizations like the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). During a visit to France’s National Assembly, the young leaders learned that France may soon enshrine laws protecting biodiversity and combatting climate change into its constitution.

After their experience in Paris, the group headed off to Kenya where they worked in conjunction with the Nairobi Center on a month-long project helping to implement a sustainable agricultural project at a local primary school and leading regular climate-awareness workshops for school children.

In addition to participating in this summer’s immersion program, a number of youth leaders will also attend the COP 24 later this year in Katowice, Poland.

At a primary school in Kenya

Discover more about the program here

Listen to podcasts of the Paris workshop sessions: