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Climate CoLab Winners’ Spotlight: Cassia Moraes

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This spotlight is part of a series from MIT ClimateX about Climate CoLab 2018 contest Winners. Original post can also be found here: https://climatex.mit.edu/climate-colab-winners%E2%80%99-spotlight-cassia-moraes

How do we inspire the next generation of climate leaders?

Cassia Moraes is trying to do just that, by piloting the Youth Climate Leaders (YCL) program to offer an in-depth, multidisciplinary education on climate change. YCL is a trip around the world, offering students perspectives on how climate change impacts different communities, and allows them to design projects to address these complex, global issues. YCL Participants from around the world are invited to apply and collaborate with with other young people to develop hands-on climate justice projects. This inspired approach won the “Shifting Attitudes and Behaviors 2018” contest at Climate CoLab.

Moraes cites the Remote Yeara work abroad program, as an inspiration for YCL. She states “I believe that traveling and knowing new cultures is the best learning experience you can have…I decided to combine the passion I have for traveling and education with my ultimate purpose: finding innovative ways of addressing the climate change crisis.” She also credits Evelyn Araipe , Fernanda Matsuoka and Gaurav Sharma (who later became the co-founders of YCL) for offering invaluable support and advice and helping get YCL off the ground.

The YCL program begins in Paris — a hub for international travel and an important player geopolitically in climate change issues. The group will then go on to Kenya to start the immersion part of the program. Kenya was chosen due to its assets on sustainable development cooperation, as it hosts several international agencies (e.g. United Nations Environmental Programme) and regional research institutes. The immersion will combine professional development activities (group project and visits to key organizations), cultural events, and individual coaching. Participants are then encouraged to apply for two optional activities: (1) 3-month tailored field placements (different countries); and (2) a 1-week delegation to COP24 in Poland.

In each nation, the group will visit universities, UN agencies, local activist organizations, and work in the field on climate change mitigation projects. YCL aims to empower future generations who will lead companies, governments, universities and social-environmental organizations towards the future that needs to emerge. Through YCL’s network, they will be able to join forces and leverage their impact in the coming years, ensuring that their local efforts be part of a larger global movement. Moraes explains: “The project that started as a dream will now help other young people from all over the world to fulfill their own dreams while they put their knowledge in service of others.” Participants will document their projects through videos, blog posts, and writing in their native language. This documentation is essential, as it allows YCL to reach a wide and diverse global audience.

After completing the program, participants have access to the wider YCL network and can affect positive change locally and globally. YCL is partnering with many organizations to raise funds for the program and to offer mentorship to its participants. Moraes describes the direct impact of YCL as the positive gains from the projects implemented. The indirect impact of the YCL program is the sharing of the participants stories, which will shed light on the urgency of climate change and young people’s potential to fight it. Moraes states: “Together, we can empower the next generation of Climate Leaders who will foster the transition to a more sustainable world!” Moraes believes the goal of the program is shifting the perspective that young people are “leaders of the future” and empowering them to act right now to address the climate crisis.

If you want to learn more about the YCL program, check out their website. If you’re interested in applying for the program, the application has gone live (the deadline is April 30), and can be found here.