Making a Difference Across the World
By Rachel Shuster
Lauren Nutter, a College of the Atlantic (COA) senior and native of Uxbridge, MA, attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. An avid environmental enthusiast, Nutter, along with fellow classmates, attended the convention as delegates with hopes of making student voices known.
Nutter and her classmates were more than prepared for the convention that is even more timely now since the current UN climate change treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Copenhagen treaty will be the one under which all nations will be operating during this next crucial decade.
Nutter is no stranger to involvement in environmental issues. During her time at Uxbridge High School, Nutter served as a youth coordinator at the last two UN meetings ~ in Bali and Poland ~ and has helped and led over 150 students at these meetings. She has also attended meetings of the Commission on Social Development and the Commission on Sustainable Development and has interned with Sen. John Kerry.
Donna Gold, Director of Public Relations at COA, comments on Nutter’s aspirations and character: “She is very good at motivating others. She wants to make a difference. Lauren and the other students have worked very hard and done a lot of fundraising for this. No one is left unaffected by this…She is a great, smart and articulate woman.”
Regarding her involvement in these environmental issues and the UNFCCC, Nutter says, “I was coordinating the program for my first year and as an organization we decided to bring a formal delegation to the climate negotiations for the first time. With the support of others, I jumped into designing and facilitating a six month prep process leading up to those negotiations in Bali. My experience in Bali with youth is really what inspired me to pursue it in a more substantial way. I meet young people from around the world who were feeling the impacts of climate change first hand, and I realized this is our future and it’s now or never to save it.”
Nutter recalls about preparing for the UNFCCC that “I was part of the COA Road to Copenhagen class and worked with 12 other students to delve into the nitty gritty of the negotiations and really understand the issues, the process, and what was going on in the lead up to Copenhagen. I am also one of the Agents of Change coordinators for the entirely youth NGO SustainUS. So I began coordinating that delegation last summer. I helped plan and run a weekend long training for delegates in DC and facilitate weekly conference calls with our delegates in preparation for Copenhagen. So I’ve been doing a lot!”
In regards to how these issues hit close to home, Nutter says, “It hits me hardest when I think of the friends I’ve meet from places like Kiribati or the Maldives who are faced with plans to relocate because their countries will most likely drown if we don’t take action now. My home state of MA could certainly face drastic changes in the future as well with a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise. We would lose much of our beloved Cape Cod.”
After the convention, Nutter’s point of view is still positive, despite the outcomes she experienced while there. “Copenhagen has been a very difficult disappointment. The accord does not put us on a path to safely mitigating climate change. I hope in the future we can have COPs that are more productive and have an inclusive process,” she says.
Despite any disappointments, Nutter’s determination to make a difference certainly hasn’t waned. “By sharing resources and knowledge, I will continue to engage on the international level and empower more youth from around the world to have their voices heard here. I also plan to go home to the US and lobby my Congress for strong action and real leadership on this issue,” she says confidently.
“We can’t be complacent and silent on this issue any longer. We can’t wait for someone else to solve it, or to wait and see how it will impact us personally. We have to pressure our Congress to take leadership and reduce emissions. We need to hold Obama accountable for promising action on this issue and call for it to be a top legislative priority both on the national and international scene,” she says.
Nutter’s strong feelings for and determination about these issues will take her far, and for “only” a college student, she has already conquered what many people only dream of doing. Making a difference is not only something Nutter strives for, but also something she was born to do.