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In Preparation for U.N. Climate Change Conference, America's First Local Conference of Youth to Be Held at Drexel University

PHILADELPHIA, September 13, 2022

America’s first Local Conference of Youth (LCOY USA) — a gathering of young people from across the United States that will contribute to an international statement on behalf of the youth of the world at the next United Nations Climate Change Conference — will be held at Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University from Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

Since 2005, young people from all over the world have submitted a Global Youth Statement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Conference of Parties (COP), the U.N.’s Climate Change Conference. The Global Youth Statement is an official position statement that represents the voice of young people and their climate demands, aimed at promoting a just climate transition that is based on the voices of frontline communities to protect present and future generations. The statement is prepared at the global Conference of Youth (COY), hosted by the Youth and Children Constituency to the United Nations (YOUNGO).

“The U.S. has the potential to be at the forefront of crucial international climate initiatives and as its youth, we want to collaborate with policy makers to ensure a better future for our planet,” said Sarah Wetzel, a Drexel undergraduate student. “Now the youth of America will have our own Local Conference of Youth, made by and for young people across the nation.”

Over the last 8 years, Local Conferences of Youth have convened motivated young people in 120 countries across the globe to create statements that inform policymakers of their concerns and position on climate change. The LCOY USA hosted at Drexel University will mark the first time that an American LCOY has contributed to the Global Youth Statement, which will be submitted to COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The three-day conference, which will include capacity-building sessions, research exhibitions, panels, guest speakers and more, is free for youth to attend via a youth delegate application process. Friday’s keynote will be delivered by the White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, a member of the President’s National Climate Task Force.

“In 2021 we attended the COP and felt lost. There were many actors, but we – the youth – were the minority, even though these conferences are about our future,” said Atharva Bhagwat, a Drexel undergraduate student who has teamed up with youth from across the country to create LCOY USA.

Youth nationwide were able to successfully petition for LCOY USA to receive endorsement from the official youth constituency of the UNFCCC (YOUNGO) ahead of the 2022 conference. Later this month, more than 100 student delegates will bring their firsthand knowledge and expertise from the communities they represent to Drexel to join in outcome discussions in preparation for COP27.

"We must improve the equity of climate advocacy and address systemic injustice in our communities- both nationally and internationally", said Julieta Marino Tartaglino, a graduate student at American University and an organizer of LCOY USA.

LCOY USA is entirely youth led with support from Drexel and specifically The Academy and The Environmental Collaboratory.

The Environmental Collaboratory, established by Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences, seeks to foster climate and environmentally just solutions by supporting research, education, civic engagement and public programming in collaboration with faculty, students and professional staff.

“Frontline communities, those who experience societal injustice and have historically been left out of decision-making processes, bear disproportionate burden from climate change and must have a voice,” said Mathy Vathanaraj Stanislaus, JD, vice provost and executive director of The Environmental Collaboratory. “LCOY plans to improve the equity of climate advocacy and policy in the U.S., by bringing together young leaders and community organizations from across the country.”