20 Jan January Member of the Month: Becky Chung
Though I have always loved to spend time in nature, looking forward to annual family trips to Yosemite, it wasn’t until the summer before my sophomore year of high school that I first identified as an environmentalist.
During that summer, I traveled to Costa Rica for the first time and saw the dividing line between natural rainforest and corporate-owned farmland. For years I had heard about the impact humans had on the environment and how the rainforest had to be saved, but it wasn’t until I saw it myself that I realized substantial action had to be taken to protect the planet for future generations.
I joined iMatter just a few weeks after I returned home and immediately felt overwhelmed by the community of incredible youth activists, many of whom were younger than me, who were leading the solutions for the climate crisis. My journey as a climate change activist started with iMatter and has since expanded to my own climate nonprofit and a variety of other environmental nonprofits, like SustainUS, Rainforest Action Network, Food and Water Watch, and more.
Through the years and even now, I continue to lead in and support iMatter, not only because it is where I started as an environmentalist but because I have seen the incredible potential and power of the youth who lead on the council.
In iMatterNow, the campaign we launched a few months ago, I am a Regional Organizer, supporting the youth who are leading campaigns in their cities to take action on climate. The Paris treaty that was signed in December has been hailed a success and a turning point in the climate movement, but it is non-binding. The signing of the Paris treaty can be attributed to the work of thousands of international activists who fought on the streets to make their voices heard, but its success is dependent on whether countries can follow through with their pledges. In the U.S., iMatter Youth leading the campaigns will be revolutionary in ensuring real change in local cities, an action I believe will transcend city boundaries and play a role in influencing national politics.
The time for waiting has long been over. The impacts of climate change are observed across the world, from California to Papua New Guinea. As youth, we can no longer stand idly by as politicians pledge to reduce emissions or create policies that do not make the real, systemic change that is necessary to make our planet livable for the next generation. The time for climate action is now, and in the US, iMatter Youth are leading the solutions.