ICLEI USA and 350.org are taking a U.S. People’s Delegation to COP23, the 2017 Conference of the Parties organized under the UNFCCC. Below is a message from delegate Guadalupe “Daisy” Romero from Hayward, CA. COP23 will take place in Bonn, Germany, from November 6-17, 2017 — you can support Daisy’s role at the climate talks here, and follow her time in Bonn when she takes of the ICLEI USA Twitter account
I grew up in South Hayward, California, where I witnessed poverty, poor air quality, and a lack of opportunities and resources for my low-income neighbors. Personally, I am affected by poor air quality, because I am asthmatic. This encourages me to seek opportunities that will benefit my community and provide them with the resources to sustain themselves.
I have always been passionate about saving the environment. I began by joining the Ecology Club in middle school, where I helped start a compost program. In high school, the Hiking Club helped me appreciate nature. I also stop people from littering. During the major Western drought, I conserved water in my home by being more conscious of my actions. For example, taking shorter showers and encouraging others to reduce water usage. In addition, I had an internship with Alameda County’s Project EAT, where I learned healthy eating habits, gardening, harvested, and donated the organic food to the community.
Becoming a Youth Ambassador for Unite2Green
These were only baby steps until I was presented with the opportunity to educate others on climate change. The City of Hayward, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, and the Hayward Promise Neighborhood teamed up to create a program called Unite2Green.
We lead bilingual workshops that covered topics such as composting, recycling, energy and water conservation in the Jackson Triangle Neighborhood. We provided residents with environmentally efficient items such as shower heads, LED light bulbs, and sink aerators. I ran the social media page where I promoted climate resilience actions and other tips. I was motivated to join the program because I love to be involved in my community.
Currently, I am continuing my work with Ecology Action and their Water Link program. Here, I am going to continue my work to serve underserved populations to save money and teach members about water conservation through door-to-door outreach. We also install water-efficient equipment into homes at no cost to the residents.
Championing Direct Outreach for Underserved Communities
It is my mission to create a healthy planet because it’s vital for the future by educating my community through culturally and language-sensitive information. I am always searching for more opportunities to make a difference in my community because we are affected by climate change.
Low-income communities lack funding and resources, which is not fair. Sometimes they may not even know the climate change issues that affect them. I believe the way to resolve this is by environmental public education and direct outreach. The way to achieve this is by creating programs that provide resources and sending out community leaders to these areas to provide them with the resources and knowledge. Sending delegates to COP23 is a great start to educating ourselves and others on what we learn through the various workshops.
Throughout my environmental working experience, I have noticed the different things that work for communities to inform an inclusive climate policy. For example, during my Unite2Green work, I saw that Hayward residents were excited to receive free energy-efficient light bulbs and were willing to try something new when they learned that the LEDs were going to save them money. These are the types of incentivized resources we need to provide disadvantaged communities.
Additionally, I recently started my door-to-door outreach with Ecology Action. I have noticed people let us into their homes if they can connect with us. If people who they can connect with approaches them then they are more willing to try something new and listen to the information. This is why we should have officials who come from the same backgrounds as the citizens —people able to speak the truth about their experiences and what they can do to improve their actions to help fight climate change.
Bringing the U.S. Climate Story to International Negotiation Space
Because I am from a low-income community, I will be able to share my experiences with an audience perhaps unfamiliar with neighborhoods in the United States that are like mine and show them the changes that are being made through these projects. As a U.S. People’s Delegate, I aim to inspire government leadership and citizens alike — from Europe and Asia and elsewhere in addition to U.S. elected officials — to take on similar knowledge-sharing in their communities.
I feel lucky among my friends and neighbors to have this chance to be in Bonn. However, I can’t attend COP23 without the crowdfunded support from readers like you. Help me share this message globally — and you can join me helping others Unite2Green in their own towns.
Daisy Romero is a member of the ICLEI USA-350.org U.S. People’s Delegation to COP23 — follow her time in Bonn when she takes of the ICLEI USA Twitter account. Daisy has witnessed poverty, poor air quality, and a lack of opportunities and resources in her low-income neighborhood in Hayward, CA. Her activism began by leading bilingual workshops that covered topics such as composting, recycling, energy, and water conservation in the Jackson Triangle Neighborhood of Hayward as part of a program called Unite2Green.