The National Environmental Youth Advisory Council (NEYAC) will offer independent advice on environmental issues affecting youth communities. The young leaders will address climate change's profound impact on their future and stress the interconnectedness of environmental protection with economic prosperity and civil rights, according to Teen Vogue.
Michael S. Regan, an administrator for the EPA, has a personal connection to the climate crisis. He experienced respiratory symptoms from pollution in his early life and vowed his commitment to youth involvement.
The NEYAC marks the first youth advisory committee on the environment across the federal government and the EPA, aiming to bring diverse perspectives to critical policy discussions. Council members, aged 16 to 29, include Gabriel Nagel, an 18-year-old climate activist from Denver, who organized a school district-based climate justice policy.
NEYAC's composition emphasizes inclusivity, with at least 50% of members coming from disadvantaged communities. Colton Buckley, a 29-year-old from rural Texas, highlights the often-overlooked concerns of rural areas and agricultural communities. His focus on clean-water initiatives aligns with NEYAC's mission to address pressing environmental issues, reflecting the EPA's commitment to balanced representation.
Wawa Gatheru, a 24-year-old from Philadelphia and founder of Black Girl Environmentalist, emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the unique concerns of youth of color are represented at the federal level. Her environmental justice work is driven by the realization that climate crises exacerbate existing social issues, disproportionately impacting Black and brown communities. She emphasizes the need for federal funds to reach youth organizations, addressing the challenge of navigating complex grant applications.
NEYAC stands as a historic initiative, reflecting a commitment to empowering young voices in addressing climate challenges. The council members, with diverse backgrounds and experiences, aim to influence policy directly and contribute meaningfully to the ongoing global conversation on environmental protection and climate action.
Noumaan Faiz, (he/him) is a journalist and entertainer from Hayward, CA who covers culture and entertainment.
Edited by Nykeya Woods