Have you ever felt like you care about environmental issues and climate change, but you feel like there is only so much an individual can do? How can one person make a difference when the institutions and systems we live and work in are holding us back? A common feeling in conversations of environmentalism is that genuine environmental change is an insurmountable peak and, as individuals, we are powerless to make big changes. Of course, we can always contribute to those classic small actions like using reusable products instead of plastic, biking instead of driving, and the like, but what about the systemic issues that we have no control over? Well, that’s where the question should be less about what we can do as individuals and more about what we can do to contribute to systemic change. And this space is where politics plays a huge role – how we vote, what we support, and what we contribute to politics.
Whether you would classify yourself as a political person or not, there is no denying that political change is an essential piece of the puzzle for environmental change. If you’re interested in making positive environmental changes, it is critical to learn about and/or contribute to how politics can be used as an effective method of change. But no one has to do this alone. GreenPAC is a Canadian non-profit, non-partisan organization that focuses their efforts on enhancing environmental decision-making, building environmental leaders, and creating spaces for the public and for future environmental leaders to contribute to these causes.
This year, GreenPAC is hosting their second annual FLIP Summit (Future Leaders in Politics) – on Saturday, January 22nd. The FLIP Summit is an all-day event that presents a diversity of speakers, presentations, networking opportunities, and participatory sessions with the theme of breaking barriers for environmental political change. This event is a great opportunity to learn about Canadian politics and its essential tie to environmental advocacy as well as hear from local politicians, interact with other like-minded people, ask questions, and learn how to get involved.
“This year’s theme is breaking political barriers for environmental progress. We chose this theme because there are many barriers that still exist for environmental change-makers to enter or engage in politics, and we believe focusing on those barriers will make the conversations more fruitful and impactful.” -Coco Wang, GreenPAC’s 2022 Summit Director
The FLIP Summit is not only for those who know about politics or have an interest in running for office. This event is for everyone. It’s for citizens. It’s for youth whose voices need to be amplified and empowered. It’s for older folks who may not know how to break out of the red and blue dichotomy that has been entrenched in our minds (and that environmental change can happen in any party). It’s for people who love politics, want to get involved with and inspired by current politicians, and aspire to be an environmental leader. It’s also for people who don’t know what politics has to do with environmentalism but want to learn. The point here is that this event is for anyone of any age or experience-level, looking to get involved, network, or just simply learn how the system of politics can work to enhance and increase positive environmental change.
“Every year, we encounter countless people who recognize that there is a disconnect between the kind of change they want in the world, and the progress that’s actually happening. Politics is the missing piece, especially environmental leadership in politics. It doesn’t matter what issue you care about, it doesn’t matter where or how you want to make a difference, politics is there. We may not like that, but we need to engage with politics so we know how to navigate it, how to shape it, and where necessary, how to change it completely.” -Brittany Stares, GreenPAC’s 2021 Summit Director
It is especially critical that youth feel invited to this event – and more broadly, to conversations about environmental politics – because the future of our world is the future of our youth. The next generation of decision makers need to be heard today and every day looking forward, especially when talking about long-term sustainability. We have a world of passionate youth who want to improve the world in whatever ways they can, and GreenPAC is an organization that is working to uplift those voices, and facilitate knowledge sharing, mentoring, and inspiration between current and future politicians.
“Research has shown that young people are the most engaging demographic in taking advocacy actions like signing petitions and raising awareness on issues, particularly climate change and other environmental issues. But the reality is that young people also have the lowest rate of voting in elections and have little political knowledge in general. To transform the energy and will for change, understanding and entering formal politics is crucial for our generation to push for the real changes we need.” -Coco Wang, GreenPAC’s 2022 Summit Director
Registration is open until 1:00 PM (EST) on Friday, January 21st, so be sure to get your ticket now and be prepared to be empowered this weekend. Never underestimate the power of a speaker, a conversation, an idea – those things can spark movements, and this event is THE place for sparks to fly. We’ll see you there!