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"I realized that I didn’t see myself represented at decision-making tables."

By: Soomin Han, GreenPAC Parliamentary Intern for the Environment

Navigating Unfamiliar Spaces

Similar to many others’ entry into a passion, my identities and experiences played a huge role in how I navigate spaces. As an immigrant and as a young woman of colour, these experiences guided my passions and values, and helped me identify the roles that I can play as an advocate and activist.

Based on these experiences, I found myself getting involved in social initiatives at a young age. I was a delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2017, and attended COP25 in 2019 to advocate for youth - especially women of colour - involvement and leadership in decision-making spaces. It’s scary enough being a young person in these super bureaucratic places. But as a young woman of color, I realized that I didn’t even see myself represented at decision-making tables - which created a lot of frustration and imposter syndrome. It made me want to find a community out there and see how I could get involved.

Inaccessibility Impedes Policy Action

Policymakers set the framework for change that sends signals to the public and key stakeholders. And while grassroots initiatives help bring solutions and add pressure, those in politics hold a lot of responsibility to address how inaccessible those spaces can be. The entry points are really unclear, making it difficult to even get your foot in the door.

There definitely needs to be work from the inside to demystify what work is being done and how it is done, because this inaccessibility can really impede action. We need policymakers to take a step back and reflect on whose knowledge and voices are being prioritized in decision-making.

Redesigning a Just, Youth-led Future

Youth really see how interconnected issues like inequality, oppression, and climate change are, and how making progress on one means advancing all. Indigenous people, front-line communities, and youth are already implementing solutions needed for climate justice. It’s time for everyone else to step up and influence every sector and space to push for ambitious policy change.

Despite the barriers, I’m committed to this work because youth really advance climate conversations, particularly when space is made for them in the policymaking process. Ultimately, I see the climate movement as a hopeful opportunity to redesign our societies for the better. I know that together we can build a more equitable, climate-resilient, and just world for everyone.

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