This is a guest blog by Allison Gacad, an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia, and an alumnus of Environmental Defence’s Young Reporters for the Environment program. She is currently covering the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

Hi! My name is Allison. I am one of four Young Reporters currently in Bonn, Germany reporting on the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23).

Allison Gacad is a Young Reporter for the Environment. She is covering COP23.
Allison Gacad, Young Reporter for the Environment

Back in 2014, I entered Environmental Defence’s National Eco-Journalism Competition for Youth with an article that highlighted my school’s efforts in waste management. I placed first at the national level, marking the beginning of my career as an environmental journalist. And now, only a few years later, here I am covering my first international conference.

COP23 will bring together UN member parties to discuss and create policy solutions to a changing climate. Aside from high level negotiations, there will also be a series of events and exhibits hosted by governments, stakeholders, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat. From November 13-16, I will report daily on everything going on at the conference. My main role will be in producing articles, photos, and videos with a team of international young reporters hailing from Sweden, Portugal, and Slovakia.

In addition, I also have the opportunity to speak on a panel on Thursday, as part of a thematic day on education for sustainable development in partnership with UNESCO. I will join three other guest speakers, and will speak about my involvement in various environmental initiatives, why education is essential to solving climate change, and how we can continue to improve.

I am incredibly excited and anxious for the week ahead, but above all I’m immensely grateful. I never would have imagined that entering an article into a competition would lead me to this opportunity. Thank you to Environmental Defence and the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) for all your support.

COP23 will be a buzzing hub of leaders, diplomats, academics and youth, brought together by the common desire to help solve climate change. You can follow my journey navigating it all here. I’ll be posting more blogs over the next few days. Stay tuned for more!