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Ryan Haughton's Experience as a COP 25 Youth Delegate

Written by Ryan Haughton, UNA-Canada Service Corps delegate At 24 years old I was working for the United Nations in the largest city in Southeast Asia. Almost three years later, and I’m a member of the Canadian Delegation for one of, if not the, largest international conferences on climate change.

Let’s take a moment and let that sink in.

As an international development student, working for the UN and representing the interests of Canada on the world stage have always been two goals of mine. Thanks to UNA-Canada I’ve achieved both—I do have to admit this happened a lot earlier into my professional career than I ever would have imagined.

When I first moved to Indonesia I had no idea what to expect. I hadn’t even graduated from school and I was supposed to be helping address some of the most pressing socioeconomic issues facing a country on the other side of the world. But over the course of my initial placement as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC), I dedicated myself to learning as much as possible about the organization, the country, and truly the people. That’s why after six months I couldn’t just pack up and leave. So I didn’t. I was able to find an opportunity that would allow me to stay and continue working on projects related to climate change adaptation and mitigation but now in a larger capacity. And although this role gave me many once in a lifetime opportunities, something that always evaded me was the chance to attend an international conference or meeting.

I know that sounds odd and as I sit here and write this I’m in total agreement with you. But having studied and worked in international development for so many years, there are certain global events like the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) that have the potential to alter and change the course of humanity. The latter reason is why attending COP 25 was such an important experience for me.

In an honor of Kate, our Inuk angel who made us debrief each day with peaks and valleys, I will summarize my experience in a similar fashion.