Date of Meeting: 19 Nov 2015

Meeting Organizer: DPI NGO

ISJC Staff Present: Luke Cozens

Reporter: Luke Cozens

Which SDG does this topic cover? 2, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Type of meeting: Briefing by United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI)

Brief summary of presentation of information made

  • Jeff Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, DPI welcomed everyone with a quote from the Secretary General that climate action must be durable, flexible, rooted in solidarity, financially viable and credible given the urgency of the situation. He also introduced the hashtags: #DPINGO #YLB
  • Amanda Nesheiwat, Environmental Director, Town of Secaucus NJ, Youth Representative to the United Nations for the Foundation for Post Conflict Development reminded the assembly of the importance of climate change, particularly in the minds of young people and said there was a need for “actual action” and that the aim of this briefing would be to equip the assembly with concrete tools and actions in time for the climate talks at COP21 in Paris.
  • Dave Gonzalez, Partner Development Manager of Skybox Agriculture, Google introduced Google’s work to utilize satellite imagery to understand relevant changes around the planet and to proliferate data to a wider audience by making smaller, cheaper, quicker, higher resolution satellites. He gave examples of how these satellites could be utilized during times of crisis such as oil rig explosions, to hold companies accountable for deforesting and to make us “smarter about how we interface with our landscape to create food”.
  • Jada Monica Drew, Chief Executive Officer, Social Designs said her focus was on “sustainable justice” from the perspective of a change agent, activist and revolutionary. She introduced Social Designs as a social justice consultancy focusing on “historic truth-telling”, “creative action steps” and “empowerment”. She explained various youth engagement programs run by Social Designs and said that developed countries have a greater responsibility to reverse climate change if we are going to focus on equity rather than equality. She described equity as fairness and equality as sameness.
  • Kelly Matheson, Board President, Our Children’s Trust said the focus of COP21 should be science based action and noted that neither science nor the laws of nature could not be negotiated with. She gave a brief history of US legislature regarding climate change and introduced a lawsuit that a group of young people were taking against the US federal government. These young people claim that it is a violation of their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property to allow the atmosphere to become sick and they are asking the court to force the government to follow a science led plan to reduce carbon emissions and other aspects of climate change. She noted that similar cases were also being taken up in Pakistan, India and Kenya and that focil fuel companies were trying to block the case.
  • Victoria Barrett, Plaintiff aligned with Our Children’s Trust is one of the young people taking up the case discussed above. She commented that change will not come fast enough without the participation of youth.
  • Questions from the floor focused on the need for action at a local level, the need for good systems for recycling, how lack of food is often caused by climate change, the inclusion of women and young people as well as faith communities, climate change as a justice issue, and the need for accountability and innovation.
  • Lisa Russell, Filmmaker and Artist, Activist on Climate Change emphasized the need for artistic engagement in climate activism and shared her film “Mother’s Cry” available at

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

  • The Salvation Army can see climate change as an issue of justice and inequality, particularly for young people and it can thus be approached with many of our existing social justice frameworks. 
  • The Salvation Army has an active youth population and there is room for more to be done to empower young people to take “actual action” on issues of social justice, particularly at the national and international level.
  • The Salvation Army is aware of the COP21 and can make sure that national leaders are held accountable to justice and science in their discussions there. There are many national and international organizations with whom The Salvation Army could partner on this issue.
  • Private companies such as Google are leading the way on new technology and innovation. The Salvation Army could consider what systems and safeguards it has for cooperation with private companies.
  • As an international church The Salvation Army is well placed to see and communicate the effects of climate change and environmental damage on the poor and oppressed. The Salvation Army could reflect on how to further use this position to advocate with such people and to highlight the “human face” of climate change which is often not seen in the context of justice by the wider world.

Web links for more information

Tags: United Nations, SDG10: Reduced Inequalities, SDG14: Life Below Water, SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG7: Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG13: Climate Action, SDG15: Life on Land, SDG2: Zero Hunger