SustainUS, the only organization of its kind in the country, has increased youth stakeholder involvement at the United Nations for the past six years and now plans to send a delegation of 22 people age 18-26 to the UN Climate Negotiations (COP) this December. As an accredited non-governmental organization with observer status at the negotiations, SustainUS will attend COP to show the world that a growing number of Americans recognize the threat of global climate change and support strong, effective policies.
SustainUS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers 26 years of age or younger. Founded in 2001 to prepare U.S. youth for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the organization has since expanded to include local chapters in six cities, as well as two national programs engaging young scientists and future policymakers. Through these efforts, SustainUS has developed strong working relationships with the U.S. State Department, national and international organizations, and youth leaders from around the world.
The delegates, selected through a highly competitive process, have written policy submissions and are working to develop briefings on the topics to be covered in Bali. The delegation will also collaborate with international youth in several specific efforts: a day of intensive training and orientation in Bali for global youth, a post-conference wrap-up session, an event corresponding with the International Day of Climate Action, a side event during the negotiations featuring presentations on specific climate-related policy topics, ongoing engagement of major media, live-blogging at the widely-read itsgettinghotinhere.org, and follow-up outreach and education efforts in delegates’ home communities.
Although SustainUS has typically relied on individual donors for the majority of its funding, the high cost of sending a delegation to Bali necessitates that we ask for additional support. The estimated cost for a 22-member delegation is $55,580, one-fifth of which is expected to be supported by delegates and other individual donors. Delegates have already solicited 234 small donations, amounting to $5,029. Several universities have also agreed to sponsor delegates. Organizational funding to support delegates’ travel costs will ensure a geographically and socio-economically diverse delegation that accurately represents the wide variety of young people involved in climate advocacy in the U.S.