Friday, December 18

US and Kenyan Youth Unite

Yesterday, several Expedition Copenhagen delegates and other youth delegates from the United States had the opportunity to meet with Kenyan youth delegates. We discussed our stories about how we got to the conference and also shared narratives about how youth have been organizing in our countries. Kenyan youth shared that although government and civil societies in the country previously had rocky relationships and young people had been ignored altogether, real collaboration has recently become possible. A four-year drought currently plagues Kenya; we heard stories about the affects of this environmental change on the livelihoods of agriculturalists and pastoralists in the country. However, we heard their optimism amidst real and current climate challenges they face.

As our meeting wrapped up, we discussed possibilities for future cooperation, touching on everything from a Facebook group to an exchange program between our countries. We then moved forward with our day’s projects, starting with taking footage for our three-word film to be released in the next several days. After shivering out in the cold together—a true bonding experience—we moved our meeting from a cold basement space to a space at Klimaforum where we worked towards our main goals for the day: putting together a package to jointly deliver to President Obama. The package included letters from children of both countries: specifically from the Kenyan town of Obama’s father and from Chicago and the Midwest. Kenya was Obama’s past, Chicago and the U.S. is his present, and our future depends on his leadership.

An addition to the package was a joint letter sharing the voice of youth on the eminence for the US to commit to strong climate legislation. Personal stories were shared that related to climate change causing economic hardships experienced in the US and extreme environmental degradation in Africa. In the interest of future generations and the health and wellbeing of those living in the world today, our voices came together to ask for strong and equitable commitments.

As President Obama is now in Copenhagen, the package should be delivered to him soon. The connections our delegation has made with Kenyan youth have been a life-changing experience. We hope that our sincere words and passion to ensure a healthy, sustainable future will be remembered by our President as he enters into the negotiations.

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