Espoir DelMain is a member of Climate Generation’s Window Into COP23 program, a multi-sector delegation attending the United Nation Framework on Climate Change Convention’s 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bonn, Germany. Our delegates will observe sessions and interact with climate change policy negotiations across international leaders and stakeholders.
DelMain is a freshman at Dickinson College planning on majoring in environmental science. She graduated from Great River School in St. Paul and also attended Conserve School, an environmental boarding semester school in northern Wisconsin in 2013. She began her involvement with YEA! MN her sophomore year and stayed active through graduation. YEA! MN is also where she first began to realize the intersectionality of environmental issues. This past year in Senegal, she spent time with the Where There Be Dragons program, learning the local languages and cultures, living with host families, and independently volunteering with the Jane Goodall Institute Spain. She hopes to attend the 13th Conference of Youth before COP23.
How does climate change affect your community sector?
As a freshman in college, I am constantly confronting the realities of deception in government in relation to environmental issues and rights. I have grown up in classrooms where students are not surprised when the teacher tells us about events like Love Canal, where low income communities were targeted and affected by carcinogens in the soil, that reveal the foundations of injustice and environmental degradation in the U.S. I’ve also been privileged to grow up in the Twin Cities and through high school found a community of folks making change and using their voices to give these issues visibility. I think climate change affects youth in different ways. Some are mobilizing, and generally the awareness that we as youth and stakeholders have is incredible. I think youth know that it’s pretty late for climate change action, but they also understand the urgency that it has, I think that greatly affects how people take action. But I do think it’s powerful that as youth we have that perspective and urgency in our work.
How can the youth sector contribute to climate change solutions? How it can help us uphold our commitment to the Paris Agreement?
I think youth can contribute to climate change solutions by bringing in intersectionality. Something that I consistently see from youth activism is the awareness of intersectionality. I think that the youth sector is also constantly strategizing ways political, social, and large scale protest action need to come together to create a sustainable movement. I see this in Sunrise Movement, which I am also a part of, but in other action spaces like at the People’s Climate Movement in DC this past April and the Women’s March action and movement that took place last year. I think youth have huge power to pressure companies and governments to uphold the Paris Agreement. It’s the only piece of legislation where countries around the world can commit to protecting youth from all backgrounds and cultures. However, I think it isn’t always given this recognition. To me, that is what gives it value for youth and where youth can have huge impact protecting it. For me, it has been a huge source of so many emotions and has opened my eyes to the realities of global climate policy. I also think youth are in a powerful place now to see how the Paris Agreement continues to be a cornerstone of global environmental policy, and if it doesn’t, youth have the opportunity to see why not and use that moving forward.
Why are you excited to attend COP 23? What are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to being in an international policy setting and interacting with huge organizations like the United Nations and all the opportunities that entails. I am looking forward to meeting new people from all over the globe who have brought themselves to Bonn for a similar goal and to deeply understand what that means for different people. I am really excited about being in such an important and international space, one rich in experience and perspective and knowledge. I really hope to find ways to take advantage of this and record it to be shared.
What change or progress do you hope comes from the conference, whether that’s personally or politically?
I hope that this conference will highlight the importance of an international agreement that everyone values and takes part in. I have been feeling lost in today’s political climate and I hope COP 23 can really highlight on a global scale the relevance, urgency, and importance of climate issues. I personally hope to discover the world of international environmental policy and learn about the role of organizations globally in the movement.
Where is your favorite place to be outdoors in Minnesota?
I am in love with Voyageurs National Park, the BWCA, and Lake Superior. I also feel a special grounded-ness on the banks of the Mississippi in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. I have been missing lakes a lot within the first weeks of college in Pennsylvania.
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