Students worked together to make changes to the Global Youth Climate Action Declaration on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 in Williams Hall. Lehigh was one of three locations across the United States hosting a public forum to revise the document. (Jordyn Pykon/ B&W Staff).

Lehigh community responds to the Global Youth Climate Action Declaration

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A group of participants passionate about the climate crisis came together in Williams Hall on Oct. 30, to revise and discuss the Global Youth Climate Action Declaration. This document was written by youth from around the world and demands “urgent action on the trans-national crisis of climate change.”

The document is intended to be globally accessible, so anyone can have the opportunity to share it with the United Nations, local governance offices or on social media. 

Lehigh held a consultation where students could come together and voice what they would change about the Global Youth Climate Action Declaration. Participants were split into two groups and worked to revise sections of the document that covered the financial, social and political factors that contribute to combating the climate crisis. 

Benjamin Davis, ‘17, ’22G, a Ph.D. student in the material science department and member of the Lehigh Sustainability Council, was eager to be a part of the consultation. 

“When I saw the email that said that Lehigh was only one of the three locations in the United States where they are having a public forum to have the chance to discuss this document with potentially global impact, I thought I couldn’t pass this up,” Davis said.

Davis said he was pleased with the outcome of the discussion, and he felt like he contributed to the conversation about the important issues addressed in the Global Youth Climate Action Declaration.  

The environmental activists were split into two groups in order to fully discuss all factors leading to the climate crisis. The students hope that having these types of conversations will educate more students on the major problems our planet faces everyday. (Jordyn Pykon/ B&W Staff)

Leah Charash, ‘19, ‘20G, who is pursuing her master’s degree in environmental policy, said the language used in the document speaks to the importance of understanding the reality and issue of the climate crisis, and urges people to respond with change.

“I think it’s really important to be honest and truthful about the reality of the situation,” Charash said.

Nadine Clopton, ‘19, ‘20G, a master’s student in the environmental policy program as a Presidential Scholar, served as an NGO Youth Representative at the United Nations for four years and is currently serving as the youngest director of the United Nations NGO/DGC Executive Committee — a liaison between non-governmental organizations and the United Nations Department of Global Communications. She is now head of the Strategic Planning and Operations team for the Global Youth Climate Action Declaration. 

As the organizer of the event, Clopton said she was glad the turnout included both Lehigh students and community members who were engaged.  

Clopton said she hopes Lehigh can contribute to the climate change crisis with intellectual, as well as actual capital, in the future. 

“It is my hope that the university will consider pledging support for global movements that are partially incubated on campus. Lehigh has played a key role in giving me the academic tools with which to help catalyze this. Lehigh should take pride in their role as a key stakeholder in the genesis of this, any funding or support would be deeply appreciated,” Clopton said. “Our campus is a hub for UN activity and ideation. In addition to supporting global movements which students are part of, I would encourage the University to reconsider the ending of the Sustainable Development program as this move will not resonate well with the global community and risk damaging our long withstanding relationship with the UN.”

She said she wants Lehigh to make it a priority to educate students about sustainable development across all academic disciplines.

In the coming weeks, Clopton is plans on hosting a live reading of the updated version of the Declaration as well as creating more opportunities for Lehigh students to get involved in this global movement.

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