Sophomore Jennie Hatch Works as an ‘Agent of Change’
at U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development
May 27, 2008
Arlie Corday, email@example.com
WELLESLEY, Mass. – Students have had a voice in the ongoing U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development thanks to a volunteer-driven youth organization, SustainUS, and the commitment of students like Wellesley College sophomore Jennie Hatch of Whitefield, Maine, at left.
SustainUS is a national organization with the goal of empowering youth to create a more sustainable world. Youth have a vested interest in the future of the world, which they will eventually inherit. Hatch traveled to New York City earlier this month to represent SustainUS and U.S. youth at the 16th U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. The commission is a U.N. body charged with monitoring progress made by the world’s governments in implementing sustainable development agreements, namely those negotiated at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002. The theme of the commission this year is reviewing progress on agriculture, land use, rural development, drought and desertification, with a special emphasis on Africa.
Hatch and others in attendance demonstrated that youth have a unique perspective and stake in the negotiations. They are working toward having their views not only considered but also worked into plans of implementation. Hatch competed in a national process to be selected as an “agent of change” with SustainUS, which brought 19 youth delegates from all over the United States to the conference in New York.
“I’m excited about participating in the commission and meeting other young people from around the country and world who, like me, are passionate about sustainable development,” Hatch said.
'Climate change places a burden on children who face forced dislocation at a vulnerable period in their lives; [their] cultural and geographic identities are increasingly threatened...'
Hatch is working towards a degree in peace and justice studies and mathematics at Wellesley. She is particularly interested in land use planning and climate change issues, and how mathematical modeling can be used for sustainable development applications. An active member of the Sierra Student Coalition, this past fall she helped start Massachusetts Youth Climate Action, a youth network in Massachusetts dedicated to fighting global warming.
Hatch helped compose—and then deliver—an official youth statement on the floor of the conference plenary, stating, “Climate change places a burden on children who face forced dislocation at a vulnerable period in their lives; [their] cultural and geographic identities are increasingly threatened, and developed states must assist small island developing states in mitigating the effects of coastal displacement, forced migration and degradation of the natural resource base.”
Hatch and other members of SustainUS engaged high-level U.S. government and international delegates and lobbied other nations to include official youth on their government delegations. With this commission’s focus on agriculture, rural development, land, drought and desertification, the interactions between government and non-governmental organizations have been heated.
Over 50 young people from around the world participated in the discussion, sharing ideas on how best to promote sustainable development.
"In terms of our world, we're living in a time of enormous challenges, but there is also a significant possibility for change,” said Lauren Nutter, coordinator of the SustainUS Agents of Change program that sponsored Hatch. "I'm proud to be a part of a global youth movement that is taking action for a sustainable future.”
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries.