NYC Climate Week Blog
October 14, 2019
“The time is now for us to be leaders,” declared Greta Thunberg, to an audience of over 500 young people at the 2019 United Nations Youth Climate Action Summit. The event was convened not only to showcase the important work of young people on climate, but also to create a meaningful space for young people in decision making on climate. Young people urged leaders to respect the agency and institution of young people, and encouraged fellow young activists to demand consequential action on science. I was chosen to represent Plan International, a women’s and children’s rights organization, at the Summit, though this was not my first visit to the United Nations. I have explored international climate policy since I attended the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit, and have since attended the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, a meeting at UN Headquarters to discuss my research leading up to COP24, and the COP24 Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland. I worked on a group research project to assist the Kingdom of Tonga in preparation for the climate negotiations at COP24, and had the opportunity to assist the Tongan delegation in effectively navigating the conference. Considering my familiarity with UN Climate Processes, I have never been more hopeful and motivated by another experience. World leaders may finally be listening to youth voices and recognizing the important intersectionality of climate change with other social issues.
The Youth Summit was part of NYC Climate Week, which also included the Climate Strike and the United Nations Climate Summit. I attended the strike, which was almost entirely youth organized, and was overwhelmed not only by the estimated 400,000 attendees in New York, but also by the over 4 million strikers worldwide. Never before have people come together in such impressive numbers to fight for climate action. In a crowd of hundreds of thousands, I managed to run into one of the students who works on the NYC Youth Climate Summit and was wearing a Youth Climate Program t-shirt! My final task of climate week was to speak at an event called “Changing the Forecast for Girls,” which was co-hosted by Plan, UNICEF, and Finnish Ministry to the UN. I was tasked with speaking as a youth advocate on a Ministerial Panel on what I hope leaders do to respond to the climate crisis, and how I hope they create a space for young women and girls in climate policy making. As intimidating of a task this was, I was encouraged that Plan wanted to showcase young voices and ask world leaders to respond to their requests. “I believe that until we achieve gender parity and diversity in decision making, we will not achieve progress on climate action. I hope one day it will no longer be remarkable to see women in positions of power. Gender must be prioritized in collaborative, transformative solutions, and only then can any other climate solutions be truly just.”
Caroline Dodd is an alumni of The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program and currently serves on the Youth Climate Advisory Board. She graduated from Cornell University in May 2019 and is applying for law school.