Upcoming Nebraska Youth Climate Summit to focus on solutions, hope

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Published Friday, September 15, 2023
by Deborah Van Fleet

(Nebraska News Connection) A 2021 survey published in The Lancet showed almost half of U.S. youth ages 16 to 25 feel "heightened worry" about climate change.

Sponsors of Nebraska's upcoming Youth Climate Summit, "Seeking Solutions to the Climate Crisis" aim to foster hopefulness in the youth who attend.

Ken Winston, executive director of Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light, is also a community organizer for the Nebraska chapter of the Sierra Club. He said speakers will cover a variety of ways to deal with the effects of climate change.

"The state climatologist will talk about climate change in Nebraska," Winston outlined. "We have a panel of people who are going to talk about things like renewable energy and regenerative agriculture, hydroponic growing and sustainable business."

Winston noted afternoon plans include an interactive "scenario gaming exercise," based on requests from last year's attendees for more "interactive" events. The summit is geared toward 15- to 25-year-olds and will be held September 22 on the East Campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There is no fee to attend, but preregistration is requested by next Monday.

Winston emphasized they are lucky to have twenty-four-year-old Filipino environmentalist Louise Mabulo as keynote speaker. Mabulo, who's also an award-winning chef, was designated a United Nations Young Champion of the Earth and a National Geographic Young Explorer because of the impact of The Cacao Project she founded in the Philippines.

"She started organizing local farmers and helping them develop a cacao crop, and then she also has a business that markets the chocolate," Winston explained. "So, she's an organizer and a chef and an entrepreneur."

One of the panels will feature young Nebraskans sharing steps they have taken to spur action on climate change.

"They'll talk about their own experiences," Winston added. "Testifying before the Legislature, creating rallies to draw attention to climate change, going to the U.S. Capitol and talking to members of Congress."

Winston stressed young people have been involved throughout the planning process and the fifth Youth Climate Summit has generated the most interest so far.

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