Youth Leading The World Congress
By Amelie Panaccione
Over my spring break I attended the virtual Youth Leading The World Congress. This experience has changed my perspective on climate change related events going on in the world while empowering me to take action in my community and around the world.
Coming into this seminar, I thought it was going to be filled with people from the USA. I thought it would be a presentation with no real interaction. I was very wrong, opening the zoom meeting I was met with three people from the USA, and everyone else from around the world, most notably Western Africa. Inside I was excited to see diversity which is definitely lacking in the climate change world that I am used to. This was a first for me, where I was in the minority in a climate change seminar.
Further along in the seminar, everyone participated in a carbon emissions worksheet. This worksheet consisted of adding together how many emissions one person uses and then used that information to see how much of the planet we would take up. I took up 300 hectares of the planet while the sustainable amount is 200 hectares for each person. With this exercise, I realized that everyone in a developed country took up more than the sustainable amount, while those in developing countries were under the 200 hectares mark. This emphasized the inequality of the world, those who take more suffer less while those who take less suffer more. I realized that the injustice of the climate crisis is so clear, yet it’s so easy in a privileged place or country to hide behind the reality.
The last day of the seminar was the action planning day. My group was able to come up with a social media plan that emphasized the use of stories. This was then presented at a group forum later in the month. The action plans created were achievable and all youth-led, which is very inspiring and not the norm at seminars. Since the seminar, I became part of two action plans which have already met at least once and are making project plans to enact the change we want to make.
With this experience, I realized that all across the world youth are making changes in their community. One of the attendees from Senegal planted over 1,200 trees to fight against desertification in his community. Another started a climate change group in Sierra Leone with a handful of people, and they now have hundreds in only a few months. I can say with certainty that this is one of the most impactful experiences of my life, the youth I have met inspire me to get more involved with this issue, and fight for the equality that everyone deserves.