Solidarity, Responsibility, Dedication: Youth for Climate Justice!

What’s up all! I’m proud to be reporting from the UN Climate Change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, as a representative of Project Survival Media. I am here working with a large contingent of delegates from grassroots social justice movements coming from the US – including the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network and, the crew I’m rolling with, Youth for Climate Justice!

In the past two and a half days of being here, I’ve held an intense sense of dedication, solidarity and responsibility as a member of this contingent. We are young people of color from the US who are grassroots youth organizers representing some of the most impacted communities in the country. Our presence here is unquestionably critical. Not only are we telling the important stories of our communities, the impacts climate change and the decisions of the negotiators have on low-income communities of color and indigenous communities back at home, we are also building solidarity with youth from around the world who are also severely impacted and are often left out of the political conversation.

Y4CJ member Joaquin Sanchez at a Youth Caucus meeting inside the UN.

On Sunday, we marched in solidarity with La Via Campesina – the international peasants movement. My personal sense of dedication and responsibility grew to a deeper level, especially as a young Asian American activist. The march ended at Kilometro Zero in Cancun, where 7 years ago Lee Kyung Hae of the Korean Farmer’s League was martyred during a massive protest at the WTO meeting, making an incredible statement on the struggle of small farmers in the face of globalization. The reminder of the freedom fighters who have paved the way for our generation to continue the struggle on the international level, and to have a voice in a space like the UN was powerful. Stepping into the UN, given the opportunity to organize with Youth for Climate Justice and the GGJ/IEN delegation is a privilege that I hold with a deep sense of responsibility. While government delegates sit behind closed doors and negotiate the survival of our communities – it is on us as young people and impacted peoples to not waver from our positions, to not forget the struggles of those at home and those that came before us and to not make the most out of our multi-leveled participation this week in Cancun.

Myself and Kari Fulton at the La Via Campesina march on Sunday 12/5

At the vigil for Lee Kyung Hae.
I’m proud to represent Project Survival Media, who has been working to tell those stories from the perspective of young people like me. Tonight I look forward to a mass mobilization that will coordinate with over a hundred solidarity actions happening around the world. From a popular chant, that originated from a Chilean movement of working class people in the 70s: “el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido” – “the people united will never be defeated.”

Love and solidarity. Ellen Choy. ellenvchoy@gmail.com

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