With less than a decade left to prevent irreversible climate change, now is the time to recognize that each one of us has a crucial part to play. The climate emergency is a collective one, and demands collective solutions—especially solutions that foreground communities with the most at stake.
Young people are inheriting the climate crisis from previous generations and they’ll be disproportionately impacted by its effects. Open and direct pathways of engagement between youth and policymakers should be the foundation for restoring faith in democracy and building climate-resilient communities.
On Monday, June 7, 2021, the Mayors of London and Los Angeles asked young climate activists to join them in a conversation exploring how we can tackle the biggest challenge our planet has ever seen, starting in our local communities.
Building resilience to climate change means recognizing who is most vulnerable to its effects and making sure they have a seat at the table. And that requires taking a cue from youth climate leaders. This is about empowering young people to not only follow the conversation about climate change but to lead it.
From Local to Global: The Fight Against Climate Change was a live-streamed virtual event where everyone can be heard.
This event was in partnership with My Life My Say (MLMS), a youth-led, non-partisan, U.K. based charity on a mission to empower young people to participate in democracy by creating spaces for dialogue across communities and generations and by providing young and socially excluded citizens with the tools to lead change within society.
It is also part of the Berggruen Institute’s Future of Democracy’s Youth Environment Service, a campaign to build broad-based commitments from governments to invest in jobs, national service, and other opportunities for young people to work together, acquire skills and training, and build common purpose and solidarity in protecting their communities from climate change.
About the Speakers:
• Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, California, United States
Eric Garcetti is a fourth-generation Angeleno, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He is the son of public servants and the grandson and great-grandson of immigrants from Mexico and Eastern Europe. Mayor Garcetti received his B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University and studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and later at the London School of Economics.
Mayor Garcetti was elected to the L.A. City Council and spent four terms as Council President before being elected Mayor in 2013 and winning re-election in 2017. As the mayor, he has implemented the L.A. College Promise, raised the minimum wage, and led over 400 American mayors to adopt the Paris Climate Agreement.
Garcetti has also served as an intelligence officer at the United States Navy Reserve and taught at the University of Southern California and Occidental College.
Outside of his duties as mayor, Garcetti is a jazz pianist and photographer. He and his wife are proud parents of their daughter and have been foster parents for more than a decade.
• Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, England
Sadiq Khan was born in London and has lived here all his life. His parents moved to London from Pakistan in the 1960s. He was state school educated in Tooting before studying Law at the University of North London.
Mayor Khan became a solicitor specializing in human rights and was a councilor in the London Borough of Wandsworth from 1994 to 2006. In 2005, he was elected MP for Tooting. Soon after, he was appointed Minister of State for Communities in 2008, and later became Minister of State for Transport, becoming the first Muslim and first Asian to attend Cabinet. In addition to these capacities, he was also Crossrail Minister.
In 2013, Khan was appointed Shadow Minister for London, and in 2015 he led the Labour Party campaign in London in the General Election. Khan has served as the Mayor of London since 2016 and was recently elected for a second term.
The mayor is a big sports fan, especially football, boxing, and cricket. He and his wife are the parents of two daughters.
• Saad Amer, CoFounder, Plus1Vote
Saad Amer is an environmentalist, activist, and the CoFounder of Plus1Vote, an organization dedicated to improving voter turnout and improving representation in our democracy. Reaching millions, the organization rallies voters on issues like climate change, social justice and voting rights and has worked with the likes of Al Gore, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Taylor Swift. He is an Expert Reviewer for the upcoming IPCC AR6 report, is on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Youth Constituency, and is an Advisor to the National Parks Conservation Association. He has researched the impacts of climate change on the ground in the Indian Himalayas with USAID, has taught environmental sustainability in China, co-created Harvard University’s inaugural Sustainability Plan, and discovered a new hybrid species in French Polynesia. He has written for National Geographic, PBS and the World Bank, and has spoken at the United Nations and TEDx. He went to Harvard University where he studied Environmental Science and Public Policy.
• Jonelle Awomoyi, BBC News Journalist & Campaigner
Jonelle Awomoyi is an award-winning journalist, campaigner, and journalist at BBC News. Stemming from her work as Croydon’s Member of Youth Parliament at age 16, she has organized campaigns locally, nationally and internationally. She has represented the United Kingdom at the United Nations and currently is an #iWill Ambassador and United Nation’s Youth Champion and advises decision-makers on methods to promote youth inclusion at COP26.
• Dominique Palmer, Campaigner & Environmental Speaker
Dominique Palmer is a Climate Justice Activist, and organizer within Fridays for Future International. She works on organizing climate strikes and actions, mobilization, and various international climate campaigns. She was noted in Forbes 2020 Top 100 UK Environmentalist List, and has been featured in the BBC, the Guardian, Refinery29, VICE and the New York Times. She is a public speaker on environmental justice that is interlinked with social issues, and has spoken at events such as the UN Climate Change Conference in 2019. She is also a student at the University of Birmingham studying Political Science and International Relations. “We are not just fighting for our futures, we are also fighting against the present crisis and for those already facing the impacts.”
• Kevin Patel, Founder & Executive Director, OneUpAction
Kevin Patel is the Founder and Executive Director of OneUpAction. He has fought as an intersectional climate justice activist from Los Angeles, CA for the past ten years. Growing up with severe heart issues due to Los Angeles’s poor air quality, he is one of the millions of people across the world who are already victims of the climate crisis. In 2019, Kevin founded OneUpAction International, an organization that supports and empowers marginalized youth by providing them with the resources they need to be changemakers. Through his work with OneUpAction, Kevin collaborated with the community to create the first-of-its-kind Youth Climate Commission in LA County to amplify youth voices on the climate crisis. Kevin is a UN Togetherband Ambassador for Goal 13 and 14, and he currently serves as a 2020 National Geographic Young Explorer. He also serves on the Youthtopia World: Circle of Youth Council, the ClimatePower2020 Council, the 1t.org US Stakeholder Council, and the Intersectional Environmentalist Council. Kevin is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in Political Science at Loyola Marymount University.
Moderated by Swarzy Macaly:
TV and Radio Presenter Swarzy Macaly presents KISS Breakfast every Saturday and Sunday morning from 8-11am, and now hosts the brand new speech radio show called KISS Life every Sunday evening at 9pm. She is also the voice of BBC Sounds and has presented two BBC documentaries: ‘Me VS Climate Change‘ and ‘Instagramification‘. As well as TV and radio, Swarzy is the founder of Too Much Source – an annual exhibition with live events dedicated to celebrating Black British creatives who are making history today. Last year’s gallery was called ‘Joy and Resilience in 2020’ – a dedication to two attributes that remain central to the black experience – all in partnership with Roundhouse, KISS, and BBC Creative.
In response to Covid-19 and the first national lockdown in 2020, Swarzy became the official host of My Life My Say’s Quarantine Question Time and has hosted a range of conversations with special guests such as Sir Keir Starmer, Munya Chawawa, Reverend Al Sharpton, as well as Former White House Chief of Staff and Counselor to President Obama, John Podesta.
Most recently, Lord Simon Woolley recognised Swarzy for her charisma, passion for young people and social justice, and her work with My Life My Say and so nominated her to be part of the Duke and Duchess’s list of Black History Month Next Generation Trailblazers 2020.