The SustainUS Agents of Change program has selected its SustainUS youth delegation to the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention and 7th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP17 and CMP7), which will be held in Durban, South Africa, from November 28 to December 9, 2011. Delegates will work with each other and with international youth in advance of the conference to educate themselves and their communities, develop policy priorities, acquire skills in effective lobbying, and engage the broader youth population in action related to international climate policy.
Please email the Agents of Change coordinator, MJ Shiao, if you have any questions about this year's or future UNFCCC delegations.
Meet the delegates after the jump!
|COP 17 Agents of Change|
Ellie Johnston is chair of SustainUS, a project coordinator for Berkshire Publishing's Encyclopedia of Sustainability and the International Review of Sustainability in Business and Law, and an intern at Climate Interactive where she supports work on their climate and energy policy simulations. In all of these roles she works to facilitate a greater understanding of the world's present and future challenges through accessible mediums. Ellie has served as the chair of the Southern Energy Network's Steering Committee, Executive of Sustainability in UNC Asheville's Student Government, founder of the NC Student Climate Coalition, leader of her campus environmental group, and keynote speaker at conferences and community events. Ellie enjoys living in the Appalachian Mountains, and traveling to new places near and far.
MJ Shiao is currently a Solar Analyst at Greentech Media (GTM) Research, focusing on US photovoltaic (PV) demand and global inverter markets. Prior to GTM Research, MJ assisted Promethean Power Systems deploy and test an off-grid, solar-powered dairy refrigeration system aimed at simultaneously increasing the quality and reducing the cost of milk for rural farmers in India. He has over 5 years experience working in the US solar industry, from research and design of high-efficiency silicon solar cells at the University of Delaware to management and engineering of commercial and building-integrated PV systems up to 2 MW in size with Solar Design Associates. MJ has a bachelor's degree with distinction in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware, where he was selected as a National Truman Scholar.
Abigail Borah is a junior at Middlebury College majoring in Conservation Biology. She is an active member of Middlebury's umbrella environmental organization, Sunday Night Group, as well as a volunteer at the Middlebury College Organic Garden. In her free time, Abigail enjoys bread baking, printmaking, cycling, and slam poetry. For the past six months Abigail worked at The Center for Whole Communities at Knoll Farm, supporting dialogues about race, class, power, and privilege. Last year, Abigail was a SustainUS delegate to the UNFCCC COP-16 in Mexico, where she organized the international youth delegation around LULUCF and REDD+.
Ethan Case is from Statesboro, Georgia. Ever since studying environmental economics in India in 2006, his interests in global environmental issues has been on the rise. After graduating form Davidson College in 2008, he moved back to India where he worked to start India's first monthly solar energy magazine and aided Urja Unlimited in building a network of businesses and NGOs focused on providing micro-financed solar lanterns in the Delhi slums. He had his first encounter with the global youth climate movement while volunteering with the India Youth Climate Network. He returned to the U.S. where, after several months of working in coffee shops while harboring a profound desire to further involve himself in the environmental movement, he joined the COP16 Agents of Change delegation in Cancun, Mexico. After returning to the U.S. inspired by the youth he met there, he became the volunteer Development Director at SustainUS and while spending his nine-to-five time aiding the Earth Day Network with environmental education efforts. His next move is to Durham, North Carolina, where he will pursue a Masters of Environmental Management at Duke University as he slowly settles into the role of a professional environmentalist.
Katherine Catlin, a native of the beautiful Washington State, is entering her junior year at Gonzaga University as a B.S. Economics major. She unintentionally became an environmental advocate in middle school after attending a town hall meeting to speak against local development. Years of activism later, she is still fascinated by public policy. After high school Kate chose to take a gap year and intern in Washington D.C. at Earth Day Network. There she spent eight months lobbying for green schools, writing “Green Your School” guides, and otherwise working with youth empowerment. Kate has also biked across the country with the Trek to Reenergize America, personally led the campaigns to bring institutional composting to both her high school and her college, and is recently a proud AmeriCorps Alumni after finishing a term with the Washington Conservation Corps. Presently Kate is in Nicaragua interning with the Social Entrepreneurship Corps. She couldn’t be more excited to attend COP 17!
Jonathan Cooper lives in Cincinnati, Ohio where he is employed as a water resources engineer. He earned a Master's Degree in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2011. While at JHU, Jonathan worked with the university chapter of Engineers Without Borders on the design of a water supply system for a rural community in Guatemala. Prior to attending Hopkins, Jonathan spent a year living in Cambodia working with Partners Worldwide, assisting on water resources projects for agricultural development. He has also worked for the U.S. Green Building Council on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) sustainable building rating system. In 2009, Jonathan was a delegate to the International Youth Conference on Sustainable Development in Seoul, South Korea where he worked to draft climate change policy recommendations ahead of COP-15 in Copenhagen. Jonathan is a Michigan native.
Laura Alejandra Fernandez is originally from Colombia, but she grew up in South Florida. She recently graduated from Florida International University with two degrees, one in Geography and the other in International Relations. Her interest for environmental issues started when she interned at a global environmental consulting company and provider of integrated low carbon solutions. Passionate about sustainability she chose to write her undergraduate honors thesis on the lack of climate change policy in the United States and the sustainable actions being taken at the local level in the cities of San Francisco and Boston. Her environmental commitment is reflected in her volunteer service project with Alternative Breaks in the Galapagos Islands last spring, where she worked removing invasive plants that affect the native and endemic species in order to help conserve the unique environment and biological diversity of the islands. Currently, she is applying for environmental focused jobs and masters programs, and is looking forward to advocate for sustainable climate solutions in Durban.
Amanda Formica is currently serving in her second year through Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Washington, DC. She works at Miriam's Kitchen, a local social service agency working to end homelessness in DC. While a student at the George Washington University, Amanda was president of GW Students for Fair Trade and founded the GW Food Justice Alliance to address climate change from the lense of food and agriculture. As part of the FJA she started the GroW Garden, a community garden in the neighborhood of her university. Amanda is part of the Advocacy and Solidarity Working Group of the Student Christian Movement (SCM) USA, a grassroots group of ecumenical youth working around issues of social justice, where she is part of a national water justice campaign. She is interested in the affects of climate change on communities in DC, especially on those who are experiencing homelessness and low income, and how to create local solutions to a global problem.
Adam Greenberg recently graduated from the Global College program, in which he spent his four undergraduate years studying and conducting field work in Costa Rica, Ecuador, China, Japan, Australia, and the US. He graduated with a degree in Global Studies with a double concentration in Environmental Justice and Peace Studies. Having entered the program primarily as a human rights activist, Adam has since focused increasingly on environmental issues. Adam is a firm believer that the environment, human rights, and peace are inextricably linked, and that climate change provides an unprecedented opportunity— and responsibility—to address the major social issues facing the planet. Adam has studied and been active in a number of high profile environmental and social conflicts, and has always sought to illustrate the connections between the environmental and social consequences thereof. Adam has worked in mining conflicts in Ecuador, water rights conflicts and CAFTA referendums in Costa Rica, indigenous rights movements in Japan, Ecuador, Guatemala, Australia, and the US, and a national park in Australia. He has also been a player in environmental policy and politics in New York State, where he worked on solar legislation. Some of his written works have been submitted to such entities as the Tibetan CCP government, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation, and the Dalai Lama. Adam is currently focusing primarily on global water issues including freshwater management and water rights. Now and in the future, Adam plans to continue to investigate, write about, and act upon the connections between human rights, the environment, and peace.
Oliver Hughes became passionate about sustainable development while spending his undergraduate summers traveling and volunteering in various parts of the world. A UK national, he relocated to the US to complete a Master's degree in International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University, New York. He currently works at the Equator Initiative, a UNDP project that awards the biennial Equator Prize to community-based initiatives in the developing world that are successfully conserving their natural heritage and alleviating poverty. He attended the International Youth Conference on Biodiversity in August 2010, and was part of the official youth delegation to the Convention on Biological Diversity COP10 in October.
Rina Kuusipalo is a student at Harvard concentrating in Social Studies, focusing on social, environmental and economic systemic change and questions of fair distribution. She has a particular interest in the transition to a more sustainable and just economy, and interned at the new economics foundation in London in the summer, working mainly on financial and banking reform in the UK and a Festival for Transition to re-imagine and act in conjunction with Rio+20. Rina grew up in Finland, but graduated high school with the IB at the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, with students from 80 countries. There she led an initiative on trade justice, was editor of the UWC student magazine and organized Model UN. This she continues at Harvard, along with political and labor activism, being the secretary of the Environmental Action Committee, and journalism. Rina was a research assistant at the Kennedy School, writing on participatory democracy, and is fascinated by people's power to unite and fight. She also worked in the NGO Plan, New Economics Institute, a prison-tutoring program, a refugee camp in the Palestinian territories, and with community organizations in Rwanda. Rina previously attended CSocD-49 and CSD-19 with SustainUS, and hopes for a COP17 filled with progressive ideas and substantial action.
Estefania Narvaez, a native from Ecuador, came for college to the US in 2006. She graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX where she headed the Fair Trade campaign for 3 years and supported other campaigns in ethical finance, human rights, and conducted research in micro finance throughout her college years. In 2009 she worked with SETEM, an NGO in Madrid, Spain that investigates controversial investments made by international financial institutions for development projects in the global south. She took part in the research for interjections at stockholder meetings and in organizing public demonstrations that exposed these institutions for their unethical behavior. In 2010 she worked with the National Secretariat of Science and Technology of Ecuador where she learned about simple technological innovations for small producers such as solar dehydrators to manage waste and recycle products that were deemed not fit for export. She also learned about larger issues that are putting the Ecuadorian Amazon in danger such as Chevron's oil spill that is sickening 30,000 ecuadorians and polluting water ways, soil, and animals and the threat to drill on the Yasuni National Park, an area recognized as one of the most bio diverse areas in the planet. Earlier in 2011 she moved to DC and organized for various organizations like iMatter, Amazon Watch, and Global Exchange. Today she is working with the Real Food Challenge organizing students across the Northeast to mobilize their campuses to change their food policies towards purchasing real food. The goal is to shift $1 billion of food purchasing by colleges and universities in the nation to local, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food by 2020. When she is not organizing she is riding her bike, dancing salsa, traveling, and cooking ecuadorean food.
Katherine Rainone hails from Manhasset, New York, where she grew up sailing and coaching the sport on the Long Island Sound, cultivating her love for the environment. She graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore with a BA in Economics and Environmental Sciences, during which she interned with various organizations including the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and the Baltimore Office of Sustainability in the City Department of Planning. After graduating, Katherine moved to New Zealand to volunteer with a small marine conservation NGO, spearheading fundraising and outreach as well as assisting with project preparation. Sailing with the project crew to Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, the organization aimed to provide humanitarian aid and sustainable fisheries assistance…so clearly she is an avid SCUBA diver and lover of all things marine related. While in PNG, she designed a survey aimed at evaluating developing coastal communities’ perception of environmental change, and through undertaking open-answer interviews, the organization was able to gain valuable information on how these Pacific Islanders perceive changes and can hopefully work towards finding adaptation methods. She is currently an Account Representative at Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey, a non-profit fundraising and marketing consultancy in Washington DC and a simultaneous Master’s Candidate in Environmental Planning and Management at Johns Hopkins University.
Marielle Remillard, a native New Mexican, developed a love for both nature and science at an early age. She has worked on a number of research projects including the development of microfluidic devices, analyzing the toxicity of nanoparticles, modeling historical changes in the Rio Grande, and evaluating ice break up on Alaska’s North Slope. Her main interest, however, is the safe and equitable distribution of water resources. In 2008 she founded the WaterCan Walk for Water in Sherman, TX to raise funds and awareness about water scarcity and sanitation issues in eastern Africa, and in 2009 she worked with Engineers Without Borders to design a water pumping system for a school in Guatemala. She also spent a semester at the American University in Dubai where she studied civil engineering as a William Jefferson Clinton Scholar. More recently, she has developed a growing interest in climate change after working in Alaska and seeing firsthand that climate change is not some far-off hypothetical problem, but an issue that is having a significant impact on communities today. In 2009 and 2010, she attended the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as a youth delegate. She graduated summa cum laude from Austin College (B.A. in Math with honors), and in 2011 she completed her MS in Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. Currently, she is working at Los Alamos National Lab, and in the future, she hopes to work as a liaison between scientists and policy makers to address international environmental issues.
Louise Yeung is a Master's candidate studying urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she focuses on community engagement in environmental planning. She also serves as the Co-Development Director for SustainUS. Before starting graduate school, Louise worked at the Environmental Law Institute on public participation in natural resource management. A banjo and paper crafting enthusiast, Louise has also long been interested in how to bring communities together through art and song. Louise graduated with a BA in International Affairs from George Washington University in 2007.