Friday, August 07, 2009

Youth Leadership Summit brings young climate change leaders together in New York

The United Nations Foundation, in partnership with IDEA, held the second annual Youth Leadership Summit from July 16th to 18th in New York city. The UN Youth Leadership Summit is the culmination of the year-long Global Debates. Young people from all over the world hold debates on the same topic and then complete other projects, such as creating climate change websites, press releases, and service projects, to earn points. The top 6 foreign schools and top 10 U.S. schools won trips to New York City for three full days of knowledge exchange, skill-building, and community action training and service.

This year’s Youth Leadership Summit brought together high school students and teachers from Michigan, Texas, California, Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Moldova, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Korea, and Malaysia.

On the first day of the Summit, students and teachers convened together in the UN’s Trusteeship Council Room, where they were addressed by Gillian Sorensen and Janos Pazstor. Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor for the United Nations Foundation, gave the welcome address and discussed the structure of the United Nations. After a great question and answer session, Director of the Secretary-General's Climate Change Support Team Janos Pazstor talked about the United Nations' actions in combating climate change. Following the lectures, students gathered together to display their service projects and conduct a networking session with each other as well as United Nations officials. The day ended with group tours of the United Nations building.

On July 17th, students and teachers got up bright and early for separate action-based workshops. Students headed to the Ford Foundation where they met with representatives from, who conducted large and small group workshops on grassroots activism, campaigning strategies and online outreach. Meanwhile, teachers gathered at UNICEF for a workshop with United Nations Association representatives to discuss ways to bring global issues to the classroom.

Youth leaders work to improve Highbridge Park during the 2009 Youth Leadership Summit.

On the final day of the Youth Leadership Summit, participants went to Highbridge Park and mulched, weeded and painted for a few hours, while learning about the history and importance of urban park spaces. Later that night, everyone enjoyed a harbor cruise and was recognized during the awards ceremony. The 2009 Youth Leadership was a terrific success! The UN Foundation and IDEA are both looking forward to providing another beneficial experience to students and teachers from across the globe in 2010!
To register for the fall 2009 and spring 2010 Global Debates, visit

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