Our leaders have shown us they are not ambitious enough when it comes to the climate emergency; young people have shown us that they are.
In the face of unprecedented challenges, we stand at a crossroads. The planet is teetering on the brink of ecological catastrophe and systems change is coming too slowly for those – often in deprived communities – already impacted by disaster after disaster. We are delighted to welcome three young climate activists working across the world to drive intersectional change to give the closing address at IFC 2023: Nyombi Morris, Topaz Zega, and Phoebe Hanson.
Nyombi Morris is a Ugandan environmental activist whose journey began at 14 when flooding displaced his family and destroyed their farm. In 2020, Morris established the nonprofit Earth Volunteers to unite young people passionate about climate justice, and in 2021 he joined the School Strike for Climate movement. Morris’s activism began to receive international attention, and he has been awarded CNN’s Environmentalist of Tomorrow Award, the Doha Debates Ambassador Award, the Population Matters Choice Ambassador Award, and the Earth Champion Award, and was nominated for Global Citizen’s Social Justice Heroes Award.
Topaz Zega is a Mexican climate activist and writer whose experience ranges from content creation to street advocacy to formal policy engagement. As an artist, Zega centres fiction as a form of emotional confrontation and social critique for transformational justice. Their work explores the intersectionality of the gender binary and climate justice, and they have been part of grassroots, national, and international collectives like the Re-Earth Initiative and Fridays for Future.
Phoebe Hanson is a politics graduate, Fulbright alumnus, and a multi-award-winning advocate focused on democratising climate solutions, bridging the gap between young people and policymakers. Hanson coordinated Mock COP26 and supported the UK Presidency in creating a joint event of education and environment ministers at COP26, facilitating pledges from 25 countries, going on to advise the Department for Education on their Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy. Hanson cofounded Teach the Teacher, a Mock COP campaign supporting students in 20 countries to teach their teachers about climate change, which now provides students with opportunities for leadership in 100 UK schools every year. At COP27, she was an organising partner of the first Children and Youth Pavilion at a COP, working to promote the interests of young people at the global level.
The closing keynote will give you an insight into the lives of these young people and their work. Our theme for IFC 2023 is UNITE and the event is built around how we can – and must – come together in a world that is literally on fire, where every day we hear news of another devastating flood, another temperature record broken, another food shortage. Our closing speakers are inspiring examples of what’s possible when we unite to take action and create real change.