Where is the courage in this room?” This was the question that Anjali Appadurai (Canada, UWC-USA) posed to high-level government ministers gathered at the United Nations climate-change summit last December in Durban, South Africa. The College of the Atlantic junior was chosen from hundreds of youth representatives to deliver their final statement as the talks drew toward an inconclusive end, with a commitment to negotiate, in the future, carbon-emission cuts.
“You’ve been negotiating all my life,” Anjali declared in the speech she crafted with four other young people. “Distinguished delegates and governments of the developed word—deep cuts now. Get it done.”
Reported first on the Democracy Now network, Anjali’s speech made global news, drawing interview requests from international media, and endorsements from NGOs and celebrities working to curb climate change. But to her, Anjali said, “the speech was just a sideshow. My real work was following the conference and really tracking the specific policy negotiations.” And although she felt disappointed in the Durban gathering, it gave her a strong sense that young people like her—in her speech, she called them “the silent majority” —belong on the forefront of the campaign to confront this issue.
“This conference made me think a lot about the role of youth,” said Anjali, who has closely studied climate change issues at COA. “I feel a strong drive to continue working in this field, and to continue representing youth, civil society, and the silent majority. I have a strong sense of having my work cut out for me.”
“She is a fearless personality,” noted Doreen Stabinsky, the professor who led COA’s nine-student delegation to Durban. “Many of our Davis UWC Scholars are amazing—but she exemplifies what a Davis Scholar is, which is engaged with the world and with learning, a voracious appetite for knowledge, and kind of unstoppable in terms of a work ethic.
“This is the uniqueness of students coming out of the UWCs, and they set the bar for other students on campus. Anjali is one of those students whom I can ask the impossible, and they ask for more.”