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Dec. 4, 2007

Columbia Undergrad Selected as Student Delegate
to Attend UN Climate Change Conference in Indonesia

Hannah Lee
Hannah Lee

Columbia undergraduate Hannah Lee (SEAS ’09) has been selected as one of 22 students who will represent the United States at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia this December 3 to 14.

Chosen by SustainUS, a nonprofit organization working with youth to promote sustainable development and empowerment in the United States, Lee is attending the meeting as part of the Agents of Change program, designed to facilitate youth involvement in international policymaking for a sustainable future.

The yough delegates, all under 26 years old, were invited to attend after a highly competitive, national selection process. Bali’s renowned beaches, however, will be but a mere backdrop to the the student’s hectic schedules. While in Bali, the youth delegation will have full access to the conference as well as the plenary sessions and side events. They will present a policy document to other youth delegations, which will serve as a guide at the two-week event.

“It is ultimately our generation who will be dealing with the effects of decisions made today, so youth voices must be represented at the conference,” said Lee, who is interested in alternative and sustainable energies, particularly for developing countries. “As a team, we hope to build momentum for a strong international agreement on climate change, one that includes the United States.”

While in Bali, Lee will write for the SustainUS Web site and an international blog for climate change activists; she was also tapped to be a conference reporter for UNDispatch.com, an independent blog about the UN and international issues. The Global Roundtable on Climate Change, part of Columbia’s Earth Institute, has provided partial funding for Lee’s trip; in return, Lee will present a report on youth action on climate change.

She hopes to gain a greater understanding of the processes that promote and stymie meaningful policy change dialogue at home. Lee also hopes to learn lessons from her peers who are attending the meeting. “I want to see what youth in other countries are doing,” said Lee. “Around the world governments are reacting [to climate change]. A lot of people internationally recognize the urgency. It’s the United States that doesn’t see the urgency; it does not recognize climate change as a priority.” 

Upon return to Columbia, Lee plans to bring back to campus tangible ideas for empowering and mobilizing youth for change and will be giving a presentation for faculty and students about the evolution of policies at Bali, key discussion points between working groups and countries, and insights to the policy points of the other youth delegations. “I want to show [fellow students]: ‘This is what you can do now. This is how you can be involved.’” 

Starting Dec. 6, track Hannah and the youth delegation’s progress and read daily blog posts on www.ItsGettingHotInHere.org and www.UNDispatch.com.

— Story by Stacy Parker Aab.