Last month, I was fortunate to visit Washington, DC as a part of the Collegiate Climate Policy Institute, organized by The Climate Initiative. The Climate Initiative is an organization with a simple goal of uniting youth leaders in actions that can be taken to protect our environment, and ultimately our collective future. Spending time in America’s capitol surrounded by youth leaders from throughout the United States made one thing abundantly clear to me: we all are facing climate challenges in different ways, but the opportunity is there to empower our fellow community members to take initiative in creating solutions.
Often, when speaking with others about climate challenges, there is a general mindset that’s adopted of not seeing the need to have a sustainability focus because the problems are far too great to make any real change happen. Although the challenges we face are significant, I’m a believer in the idea that we can all play a small role in advancing sustainable initiatives, while creating tangible results over time. Reflecting on my visit to the US Capitol and the partnership of the Climate Initiative has energized me to think about how we can all take steps in sustainable development in the places that we call home.
The first step in this process involves educating our peers so that we can all better understand what sustainability means, and what sustainable actions look like. It must be acknowledged that positive sustainable actions can differ depending on location, but core ideas like understanding our individual carbon footprint and ways it can be minimized is very important. Not only does this allow us to be reflective of our own actions, but it can allow us to learn from others in how sustainability can be integrated into daily routines.
Another important step in this process is working collaboratively with various stakeholders in your community to understand what the biggest sustainable challenges currently are, along with the most significant opportunities for development. Collaborative conversations can happen in many ways and can begin with identifying leaders who are already doing work on environmental protection. Having these types of conversations not only allow for different perspectives to be shared but also to better understand what initiatives have already been pursued.
Ultimately, with a massive challenge like creating a sustainable future, the most effective way to create long-term change can begin with setting goals, and when work is being done collaboratively to educate on these issues and create possible solutions, it ensures everyone will be involved in shaping a brighter future.