What happened after the Youth Climate Action Summit

Inspired and energized, 500 young people take on their generation’s great challenge

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The inaugural Youth Climate Action Summit was held at The Tech in San Jose, California November 2018.

By Malaina Kapoor

In November 2018 I was a part of the inaugural Tech for Global Good Student Board that planned the first ever Youth Climate Action Summit at The Tech in San Jose, California. We designed the daylong event to educate and galvanize students on the issue of climate change.

The day of the Summit was a whirlwind. It was exhilarating to watch the line of 500 students wrap around the block, to taste the 100% plant-based Impossible Burgers and to observe breakout sessions ranging from a UN climate negotiation simulation to an environmental-themed escape room.

The summit ended with a keynote from Mayor Sam Liccardo on environmental policies in San Jose. As I stepped up to the podium at the closing of the summit, I was excited by what we had accomplished, but knew we had more to achieve. I spoke about the need for continued action on the part of every attendee, and the board’s desire to spark a movement.

Just three months later, I’m proud of the reach that our summit and board has had. Below are some examples of the clubs, schools and individuals we’ve inspired to rethink their relationship with our environment.

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National Geographic partnered with summit organizers to bring scientists and researchers to several panel discussions.

During the summit, students from Gulliver Schools in Miami, Florida video-called to share their personal experiences with how climate change affects coral reefs. Later that year, inspired by our student-led efforts, they decided to launch their own inaugural Miami Youth Climate Summit that will take place this month. “We need our youth to be the one leading this charge,” says Emilia Odife, advisor for Gulliver Field Studies program. The Miami Summit will be completely student led and will highlight the research, projects and advocacy of local teenagers.

“I just facilitated [the Summit] and lit the fire,” Odife says. “[Now, the students] want to start looking at things that are really affecting South Florida … and start advocating for some policy changes.”

The Tech Youth Climate Action Summit had an affect closer to home, too. We had consistent engagement via EcoChallenge, a platform that allowed us to track attendees’ environmentally conscious actions following the Summit. At Monta Vista High School in Cupertino the environmental club was inspired to launch their own EcoChallenge from Jan. 1 to Earth Day, April 22. “We thought that was a low-cost way to do some little things to help lower the carbon footprint for our school,” said Iris Xia, club president. “[We have] quite a few people on there, quite a lot of engagement … [We hope this will] hype up environmental science at our school.”

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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo with members of the student board who organized the November summit.

We’re excited by the impact our summit has had so far. Over the next year, we hope to see increased engagement on EcoChallenge, more sibling summits across the world and more events on climate change here at The Tech designed for students, by students to further inspire our fellow teenagers to take on the environmental issues directly affecting our generation.

Interested in our movement? Join us! Apply to be a 2019–2020 Tech Student Board member by emailing TGG_StudentBoard@thetech.org.

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Malaina Kapoor is a homeschooled high school junior and Tech Student Board member passionate about youth-led activism. She is the producer of public radio show In Deep with Angie Coiro and has been published by Education Next, Mercury News and the Christensen Institute.

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