U.S. Climate Action Center Panel:
Change is Here!
Will is a youth climate activist in Miami, Florida, ground zero for sea level rise. Growing up in Miami, Will loves the ocean. His hobbies, rowing crew, snorkeling, and free diving, all ocean related, and have already been curbed by climate change. Will spends his free time in the Bahamas, now ravaged by the last two intense hurricanes. His school field at Ransom Everglades in Miami (sitting at about three feet above sea level) has already flooded with storms. Located on Biscayne Bay, Will’s home and school are expected to be uninhabitable by 2050. These are things he has experienced firsthand. To draw attention to the issue of climate change, inspired by Dr. Goodall’s message of hope, Will joined Roots and Shoots, Dr. Jane Goodall’s Global movement of youth, which empowered Will to use his voice to influence change in his community. In 2018, at age 13, he founded the Roots and Shoots group, We Are Forces of Nature, to ensure that young voices are not only centered on climate conversation, but that elected officials will listen. And act. Will began organizing climate strikes, inviting Miami’s elected officials to hear their future voters’ demands for immediate climate action. He successfully campaigned for the City of Miami declare a climate emergency and was invited to work with his city to develop a plan for carbon neutrality. Slowly, youth across the globe were instrumental in bringing the climate conversation to the center stage, but in Miami, Florida, ground zero for sea levels rising in America, action could not come fast enough for Will. “We are out of time,” Will told a reporter for Miami Beach Community News. He travelled to the United Nations in New York, determined to amplify the voice of youth in calling our world leaders to action, where he participated in the first United Nations Climate Youth Summit. Will was invited to join Dr. Jane’s National Youth Leadership Council in 2019. He has worked relentlessly with the United Nations youth on their Oceans, Climate, and Energy working groups. He traveled as the youth delegate for the National Wildlife Federation to COP25 in Madrid, participating in the “US Climate Action Speak Out” where youth and indigenous activists, students, and others shared their personal stories of climate impact and action. Will believes his generation is unstoppable, and together with the hope and guidance provided by Dr. Jane and other leaders, we can change the world and save our planet. Recently, after an oceanfront apartment building in his neighborhood collapsed this summer, in part due to corrosive forces caused by sea-level rise, Will was invited by the Mayor of Miami-Dade to be the youth voice on climate adaptation and mitigation needed. Will lost friends and neighbors in that building. Encouraged by Dr. Goodall’s goal to plant 5 million trees, as a part of her Trees for Jane campaign, Will started his own efforts to regenerate mangrove forests in his state.
Gina Fiorile is a Program and Communication Coordinator for the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network at (CLEAN) at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). She has held previous positions as a Science Communication Specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Climate Adaptation Science Center, and as a Research Assistant for George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication: Program on Climate & Health. There, she earned her Master’s degree in Science Communication, and she holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont. Her work with climate education & communication earned her recognition from the EPA and from The White House, where she has spoken numerous times as a "Champion of Change" for Climate Education and Literacy. She was a delegate at COP21 in Paris and is recognized as a "Global 30 Under 30" leader in Environmental Education by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). She was recently awarded the Joe Witte Special Recognition in Science Communication Leadership Award, and currently serves on the Youth Advisory Board for The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program.
Kevin J. Patel
Kevin J. Patel has fought as an intersectional climate justice activist from Los Angeles, CA for the past ten years. In 2019, Kevin founded OneUpAction, an organization that supports and empowers marginalized youth by providing them with the resources they need to be change makers. Kevin has created 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 7, 13, & 14, he is a National Geographic Young Explorer. He also serves on the Youthtopia_World : Circle of Youth Council, the Intersectional Environmentalist Council and the ClimatePower Creative Advisory Board. Kevin is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in Political Science at Loyola Marymount University.
Aryaana Khan was born and raised in Bangladesh, a country annually submerged underwater as a result of climate change. Four years after emigrating to New York, she began doing environmental advocacy work with various non-profit organizations, such as Action for Climate Emergency (ACE)— and has continued to build in the youth climate movement since.
Julieta Rodrigo is a climate science educator and communicator. Growing up in a family of immigrants, Julieta's background is rooted in the belief that effective communication is a great way to bring diverse people together. After receiving bachelor degrees in Political Science and International Relations, she dedicated her time to learning about the threats posed by a changing climate. In her role as Program Manager at The CLEO Institute, she educates students, teachers, and the general public about the climate crisis. She is attending COP as a member of Climate Generation's Window Into COP26 delegation.
Hello, my name is Maryama. I serve as a representative on the Minnesota Youth Council. I am also a youth environmental activist under climate generation. I primarily focus on climate justice education. I believe that knowledge is power and the first step to combat the climate crisis is understanding it.
Moderator: Haley Crim
Haley is a climate justice advocate and passionate proponent of ACE. She has worked on both federal and civil society climate empowerment and capacity-building efforts in the U.S. As a member of the Coordinating Team of the U.S. ACE Coalition, a group of U.S. based organizations and individuals working towards just, efficient, all-of-society action, she coordinates national conversations around ACE. Haley facilitated the U.S. ACE Dialogues in 2020, bringing together over 200 ACE and climate justice-focused organizations and individuals to inform the creation of a community-driven strategic framework for ACE in the U.S., and has published several articles around ACE and participatory policy design for just climate action.