Global Shapers at the Global Climate Action Summit

On September 13 and 14th of 2018, members of the Global Shapers Community, the young leaders program of the World Economic Forum, descended on San Francisco, along with four-thousand other climate leaders from around the world for the Global Climate Action Summit. This experience was, in a word, incredible. The depth of knowledge and passion assembled in the hallways of the conference is representative of some of the best and brightest in the world working to prevent the catastrophic impacts of climate change, and realise the incredible potential for inclusive, shared prosperity that the zero-carbon transition represents.

Who attended?

Over twenty Shapers came from every continent, of numerous nationalities, and professional backgrounds including, entrepreneurs, civic leaders, social innovators, students, researchers, and activists.

Shapers at the Global Climate Action Summit

What is the value of youth representation at these summits?

It’s a familiar story to say that young people are not well-represented at the table of international negotiations. What’s particularly frustrating in the case of climate change is how intimately action on climate is tied to the future success or failure of younger generations, and how seldom our voices are actually represented in the negotiations, and even less often in the work that results.

The Global Climate Action Summit, and The Climate Reality Project, helpfully push back against this trend. By directly including a cohort of Global Shapers, and by specifically identifying a smaller group of “Climate Trailblazers,” they highlighted the work of young people, and gave them opportunities to share their work with the thousands of delegates attending.

Climate Trailblazers on stage at GCAS.

The partnership between the Global Shapers and The Climate Reality Project has been made possible thanks to the generous support and leadership of Climate Reality Board Member Rosamund Zander. While there are many elements still to be discovered, the relationship is growing in scope and resources every day.

What did we do?

Global Shapers at the Summit were involved in numerous portions of the Summit, but one of the most tangible aspects of our presence there was the commitments made within our own community. The Global Shapers Community created a Climate Action Steering Committee (the Committee) earlier this year, led by two Shapers present at the conference, Carlo Delantar from the Philippines, and Robyn Seetal from Canada. These two Shapers led a session with all of the Shapers present at the Summit, to discuss how to mobilize the Global Shaper community of over 7,000 young professionals around the world on climate action. The Committee aims to engage all Global Shapers in a climate related project by 2020.

Global Shapers during a strategy session with Members of the Climate Action Steering Committee.

What are Shapers going to do next?

The members of the Committee presented some of the early structure that they were developing for Shapers on Climate Action. This included:

  • Committing, across the entire Global Shapers Community, that every Hub take on at least one climate change-related project by 2020, in line with the Paris Agreement and commitments from the Summit;
  • Developing a database of existing Shaper climate action projects that can be tailored and replicated across other regions;
  • Streamlining communication across the numerous Shaper sustainability, climate action, and environmental groups;
  • Coordinating with external partners, especially The Climate Reality Project, to elevate shared climate action objectives and build capacity within the Shaper community;
  • Building a clear, overall roadmap for climate action amongst the Global Shapers Community that utilizes established frameworks like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that fully leverages the incredible strength of our global community.

The excitement as the group of Climate Action Shapers discussed the community’s goal was palpable. Shapers present were incredibly excited to think of themselves and their local Hub of Shapers as part of a larger strategy to take global climate action — particularly by young people — to the next level.

As the next year advances, Shapers will be present at numerous summits, conferences, and meetings around climate change and the environment, including COP24 in Poland, New York Climate Week, the Sustainable Investment Forum, and many others. The plans that were laid here are surely only the beginning of what Shapers will come up with.

The Shapers want to again thank the Climate Reality Project, particularly Rosamund Zander, and the Global Climate Action Summit organizers — we’re excited to show what we can do with this opportunity.

By George P.R. Benson — Global Shaper from Vancouver Canada

@georgeprbenson