COP27 Update: First U.S. LCOY, First time at COP27, First Children and Youth Pavilion

    By TCI Policy Manager Javan Santos

We’re so excited to be posting our first blog update from TCI Policy Manager, Javan Santos, who is on the ground at COP27 in Egypt! TCI has 4 delegates attending COP this year…Leia Lowery, our Director of Programs & Outreach, Pooja Tilvawala, Youth Engagement Manager, Javan Santos, Policy Manager, and Board Member Angela Zhong!

Want to learn more about COP? Click here!

We’ll have live updates and news through November 20th and even more content beyond as we dissect everything from our time in Egypt. Make sure to follow along here for new blogs and over on our social channels, especially Instagram (@the_climateinitiative) where our delegates are doing takeovers! We’re also proud to be partnering with Climate Generation, as Javan and Pooja are also a part of the Climate Gen delegation, who are sharing regular COP27 email updates and more on their social pages. Definitely check it all out!

And now over to Javan for our first update…


Javan & Leia at COP27

Thanks to the Climate Initiative, Climate Generation and other organizations, I have been able to access and use my voice in climate policy spaces I would have never known otherwise. I have attended and contributed my policy background as well as my lived experience as a Pacific Islander in so many important youth and policy spaces. Some experiences in this space have been very rewarding, others have been frustrating, but overall I’m thankful to have just been able to be in the space and learn.

I am writing this blog from a worktable in a pavilion at COP27 right now attending on behalf of The Climate Initiative in order to observe, network, and expose more people to the work we do for youth climate action. Prior to COP, I attended COY17, which is the youth climate conference. While there, my philosophy as a policy person was challenged as I entered the international arena for the first time. What can a U.S. organization contribute to the international community when the U.S. is the biggest contributor to climate change? How can The Climate Initiative do international policy work for the entire world in an equitable way? Was this even possible as a small climate organization like we are? Is policy even really making a difference or is it only hampering progress?

These questions spun in my head as I stood in the queue (“queue” means “line” for us Americans) to receive my badges to participate in COP27. But when I walked into the venue and began seeing the space, I was dazzled by the displays. Everything seemed so official, so inviting, and every party (the P in COP, not a celebration) with a pavilion was showcasing their most impactful contributions to solving the climate crisis. 

From left to right: Pooja, Javan, and Leia

I explored around and found myself at the Children and Youth Pavilion. When I entered the Youth Pavilion, it was bustling with life. So many young climate leaders were mingling, networking and laughing. Some met for the first time, others were maintaining their friendships they made at COY just a few days before. This was the first Children and Youth Pavilion at this conference. Never attending a previous COP, I can’t imagine what COP could have been like without this lively and energetic space. This space was also filled with so many youth empowering each other. As I sat down with many young people already doing the work, just mentioning it was your first COP, wisdom and advice came pouring from those more experienced but still young:

“The first COP is the Learning COP. Take your time to take it all in. Learn as much as possible. You are doing fine.”

“COP never gets better. People are always confused and lost and overwhelmed, so take your time and be kind to yourself.”

“Going to many of these COPs, it’s all about making the most of it. There’s so many pavilions and so many events and young people from all communities. Use your voice but also meet many people!” 


From left to right: Angela, Pooja, and Javan

I still don’t know if all these flashy displays are “greenwashing” as Greta Thunberg said. Were all these accomplishments really accomplishments if we’re nowhere closer to the 1.5 degrees that will mitigate major consequences? I also don’t know how much progress will be made at COP27. All I know is that there’s a lot of people here and its empowering to be here. I will do my best to participate, bring my unique voice as a young Pacific Islander, and most importantly, learn all that I can about the workings of COP to make resources and guides for future young people interested in making a difference in these spaces. Feel free to follow our social media and stay tuned with TCI as this content and resources are released!