Young climate activists with signs. [Image: DisobeyArt / Getty Images]

The First-Ever US-Korea Bilateral initiative for Youth to Address Climate Change

Korea Asia

Climate change is a pressing issue to be addressed at local, national, and international levels. As our climate situation becomes more dire, the United States and the Republic of Korea continue their efforts in addressing the climate crisis together. In May 2021, at a summit between US President, Joe Biden and South Korean President, Moon-Jae-In, the two countries put forward the first-ever bilateral initiative that addresses climate issues through a Youth Exchange Program.

The US-Korea Young Activists Exchange program is set to bring together young climate activists from the United State and The Republic of Korea to build synergy and work towards sustainable environmental goals. The objective of the exchange program is to further US-Korea youths’ understanding of both countries’ efforts to address climate issues. In particular, the program will provide participants with a deeper understanding of the United States and Korea’s commitment to addressing climate change domestically and internationally through their multilateral efforts.

Funded by the United States Department of State through the US embassy in Seoul, the program will be held in several cities in both countries. The program will be hosted in: Washington D.C, Boulder, Reno, Seoul, Dangjin, Sejong, Daejon, Gochang, Gwanju, Kyongju, and Jeju.

During the two-way program, young Korean and American activists will spend 13 days in the other’s country, with each delegation taking turns to visit. During the exchange, the participants will engage in site visits, professional meetings, workshops with national and international organizations, cultural outings, and attend the 26th annual Lake Tahoe Summit, when in the United States.

In August 2022, Korean climate activists will participate in the first visit of the program in the United States. There, the participants will visit US government agencies focused on the environment, as well as US non-profit organizations working on environmental sustainability. The Korean participants will also have the opportunity to meet with the US participants for synergy and relationship building in Reno, Nevada.

In October 2022, young American climate activists will have their visit to South Korea. The visit will include on-site activities such as workshops, meetings cultural outings, and sightseeing. The US participants will also meet with the young Korean activists in Seoul.

Although the collaborative effort needed to create a more sustainable planet is far from over, the US-Korea Young Climate Activists Exchange Program is certainly the right step forward. Similar to the US-Vietnamese environmental exchange program, where participants are addressing environmental issues from their respective countries, these bilateral efforts hope to further assist work in addressing climate change globally.

Ruivaldo F. Viana is a participant of the Young Professional Program at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. He is a senior undergraduate student at Luther College studying Economics with a focus on Environmental Policy.