At SustainUS, we believe that young people should have a voice in the policy decisions that will shape our future. We are a youth-led organization and have worked for years to build youth delegations to advocate for justice and sustainability in United Nations meetings on sustainable development, climate change, eradicating poverty, biodiversity loss, and women’s rights. We see attending these conferences as opportunities in holding our government accountable on an international stage, building and strengthening the youth climate movement, and supporting the work of frontline communities already facing the effects of climate change.
In light of the pressing and ongoing disaster of human-caused climate change, countries of the world gathered together to create the legally-binding United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. The objective of the Convention was the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Since then, countries have gathered every single year at Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to negotiate on our futures, and every single year we see them make false promises to reduce their emissions at the cost of the real livelihoods and bodies of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis. This inaction culminated in the creation of the Paris Agreement of 2015 where countries promised to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C. Despite being hailed as a monumental success for people and the planet, countries’ commitments to emission reductions (if fully implemented) take us to a world that is 4°C warmer by the end of the century. This is unacceptable, given that entire islands will be underwater with a temperature rise of 1.5°C. The greatest injustice of this entire process is that although developed countries and rich corporations have historically caused the crisis, the most vulnerable are those who are the most innocent in its causation – people of color, indigenous people, women, low-income communities, and those in the developing world.
2018 will bring multiple other important moments for the US climate justice movement: the midterm elections in November and the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September, all alongside ongoing local fights to keep fossil fuels in the ground. While we don’t have specifics yet, we will be working as a delegation to figure out meaningful and powerful ways to engage with the GCAS (Global Climate Action Summit) and the midterm elections. If you’re from California and want to participate in the California Allegory Fellowship – a SustainUS program – you can check that out here.
We work to advance climate justice both at the UN and domestically. We work from within and without, lobbying and putting direct pressure on the US government with direct actions and stories that shift the narrative on international climate politics. We work directly with youth and civil society climate leaders from all over the world, from policy groups like Climate Action Network to a coalition of allies from the global climate justice movement. We develop our own voices, working with international media from Democracy Now to the Guardian to AP. In Poland, we will live in community, embodying the change we believe is needed to undertake strategic actions, direct advocacy, and alternative storytelling on a world stage.
The delegation will begin work in mid-June, and spend the months before COP24 building relationships and preparing our advocacy platform. You can expect at least 5 hours a week of work in the first few months, 5-10+ in the lead-up to COP, plus at least 1 weekend-long team retreat. We will travel to Katowice, Poland and attend COP24 from December 1st-16th, 2018. After COP24 the majority of the team will remain engaged with SustainUS and UNFCCC advocacy in their own personalized way. We will also play a role in shaping the program moving forward and choosing next year’s delegates, as well as shaping the direction of the SustainUS organization as a whole, joining onto the various new and exciting projects we’re brewing up for 2018-2019.
We are looking for a team of action-oriented climate justice organizers, advocates and storytellers, aged 18-29. We are looking for risk-takers. For young people who are not afraid to challenge themselves. This isn’t based on your resume, but on your willingness to jump to the next level in the work you do. The primary skills we look for are those ready to work on a community-oriented team – a team that collectively holds skills in nonviolent direct action and mobilization, media work, policy, and climate justice organizing.
We strive to ensure finance will never be a barrier for your participation in a SustainUS delegation. It’s very important to us that this opportunity is accessible to all, regardless of financial situation. Our goal in leading this delegation is for everyone’s expenses to be completely covered and to also have remaining funds to give each delegate a small stipend paying them for their work, a goal SustainUS met the past two years. Everyone on the delegation will be expected to fundraise. In the past, delegations have been fully funded opportunities through a combination of grassroots crowdfunding, foundation grants, university support and NGO sponsorships. The SustainUS development team and delegation leaders will provide lots of ongoing support and resources to do this. Previous fundraising experience is not required.
SustainUS is a US youth organization. To join our work, you must have some relationship to the United States, whether it’s where you’re originally from or where you attend school/work or have been living for at least 6 months. You do not have to hold US Citizenship to be eligible. Additionally, you must be between 18-29 years of age (you must be 29 when selected, but can turn 30 once on the delegation).
That’s fine! As long as you send us some public form of the piece (a Facebook post, Medium blog post, etc.) in the meantime, as well as a screenshot of the email from the media outlet accepting your piece.
You will have poured immense energy, passion and work into your submission, and we want to honor and respect that by sharing transparently our selection process. A selection committee comprised of the COP24 delegation leaders, 2 representatives of the COP23 and COP22 delegation and the SustainUS Executive Coordinator will review all submissions and make selection decisions as a committee. We will pick semi-finalists and send an additional Google form asking for more info, and we may request an interview. We will be selecting about 8 new delegates to join the team, alongside 5 who are already on the team who are returning delegates from previous years.