Eli Allen ’09 will join youth leaders from across the country to represent the United States at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 14th Conference of Parties. The event will be held Dec. 23 in Poznan, Poland.
“My generation will ultimately be responsible for the effects of the decisions made at the negotiations, so it is imperative that we be involved and have representation,” says Allen, a College of Social Studies major. “I hope to express the urgency of this moment in our history, where we must realize our common responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our world community from the potentially overwhelming burdens of climate change.”
As a member of the U.S. Youth Network for Sustainable Development (SustainUS) delegation, Allen will take part in negotiations that will spark a new framework for the international response to global warming. SustainUS is a non-profit organization of young people advancing youth empowerment in the United States through proactive advocacy at the policy-making and grassroots levels.
Allen was invited to join this Sustain US delegation after a highly competitive, national selection process. He is one of only 20 student delegates invited by the nonprofit agency.
During the conference, Allen hopes to positively affect the climate treaty negotiations taking place in Poznan, Poland. He will meet with government delegates, fellow civil society members, and other youth in attempt to promote a bold, binding, and just international treaty with science-based targets.
He will also present policy proposals and meet with U.S. State Department representatives.
“I am really excited for this incredible opportunity to actively participate in international policy-making,” he says. “As a team, we hope to build momentum for a strong international agreement on climate change, one which includes the United States.”
Over the past two years, Allen worked as an intern with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, coordinating an educational outreach campaign to provide older adults with information on environmental health hazards. He also worked with Preventing Harm Minnesota to advocate for the use of the precautionary principle in the creation of environmental health regulations in Minnesota.
Currently, Allen is an active member of Wesleyan’s Environmental Organizer’s Network (EON), where he advocates for implementing green cleaning in campus buildings. The conference will be Allen’s first experience working specifically on climate policy.
“My involvement in international climate change policy extends my interest in environmental health and justice and refocuses it within a global context,” he says. “Climate change has the potential to dramatically harm human health. The possibility of increases in heat-related illness, air pollution and waterborne diseases demonstrates both the urgency of combating climate change and the consequences of inaction.”
Allen is presently working on a campaign to invite President Elect Barack Obama to attend the negotiations and commit the U.S. to responsible leadership on climate change.
“After 8 years of the U.S. blocking global progress on climate change, the presence of President-Elect Obama would send a huge jolt of optimism into the meeting,” Allen says.
After graduation, Allen hopes to work on environmental policy issues within the government or with a non-profit sector.
“Though I am not an environmental studies major, I do believe that the skills I have gained through CSS are highly applicable to environmental policy issues,” he says. “Climate change is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring an analysis of the role of government, the economic effects of regulation, the history of similar efforts and the normative systems that underpin any action.”