Together We Can Change the World’s Climate

A UNIS Hanoi Alum is one of the leading voices gaining the attention of world leaders at COP26 with demands for greater transparency, access to information and a place at the table...

20 year-old Adélaïde Charlier (Class of 2019) attended the Youth4Climate Summit in Milan at the end of September, 2021 where she represented the Belgian Youth to discuss climate issues and write recommendations for the upcoming COP26. After two days of hard work, she and 400 young people from around the globe gave their recommendations to over 50 Prime Ministers and Environment Ministers. The main recommendations include climate change information accessible to all through school curriculum and youth participation in climate change negotiation. Adélaïde said “It is crucial because any decisions taken during COP26 will affect our generation directly. We urge world leaders to include youth in the decision-making process of not only COP, but also any other Climate Change multilateral events.” 

The second year Vrije Universiteit Brussels' student has been juggling her time between her Political and Social Science degree and climate change activism. 

“Four years at UNIS Hanoi changed me and helped me become aware of climate problems”, she said. “UNIS opened the world to me and taught me about the Sustainable Development Goals. I remembered talking to my parents about beach erosion in Vietnam over dinner when I was 12. And I was touched seeing how climate change affected the beaches along the Vietnamese coastline when I visited them.” Adélaïde also enjoyed being part of Model United Nations in Secondary School where she gained background knowledge about how policies work on an international level. “All the programmes put in place at UNIS Hanoi really helped to build the citizens of tomorrow.”

Growing up into a responsible world citizen, Adélaïde was frustrated when she found herself back in Belgium and no one was talking about climate change at her high school. She was also frustrated realising that there was a big gap between what politicians said and what had been done in climate change. Adélaïde’s awareness matured in 2018 when she learnt of and followed Greta Thunberg’s first climate strike. She determined “I need to act!” 

Adélaïde then created Youth for Climate Belgium with her friend, Anuna De Wever. The group has organised 25 school strikes and demonstrations with thousands of youth to demand political actions for the climate crisis. At the end of 2019, she crossed the Atlantic ocean on a sailing boat to COP25 in Chile to raise awareness on alternative carbon free modes of transport. Unfortunately, the conference’s location was changed at the last minute so she was not able to attend it. 

She also created an Environmental Expert Panel in Belgium which brought together over 120 environment experts. The panel helps bring forward experts’ messages to the public as well as advocating for their recommendations to be applied directly in the country’s law. She currently is also the special advisor to Mr Frans Timmermans, the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission. In this role, Adélaïde ensures that the European Commission takes into account youth’s inputs in their decision making process. Adélaïde confesses “Once you inform yourself and you know how to act, you never stop anymore!”

Adélaïde is a strong believer in the power of a united community. “When people are acting together from different aspects, collectively we become change makers”, she said. “It’s important that we, the youth, are working together to find many different solutions to change the world’s climate.”

Adélaïde will be attending COP26 in Glasgow for the very first time as a young member of the Belgian delegation. She will bring social justice, biodiversity and human rights to the international climate discussions. 

We are grateful for the time that Adelaide has dedicated to supporting UNIS students both through PYP Exhibition mentoring and as a keynote speaker for our Youth Summit with Under Secretary General of the UN, Mr Fabrizio Hochschild in January. 

UNIS Hanoi students passionate about this topic will also have an opportunity to debate climate change issues with Adélaïde at the upcoming After COP? UNconference happening during UNovember. Debate topics will be based on the outcomes of COP26. Look out for more information closer to UNIS Hanoi UN Day.