Recently, the European Union’s Delegation (EUDEL) to Mexico collaborated with the European Union Policy and Outreach Partnership (EUPOP) to co-host the “Young Mexican Leaders for Climate Action and Biodiversity Promotion” one-day conference.
Coinciding with the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) and ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), EUDEL and EUPOP’s event focused on fostering climate education and activism, promoting youth engagement in climate change adaptation, as well as empowering Mexican youth to enhance climate actions from their respective sectors. The event facilitated conversations between policy makers, activists, social entrepreneurs, and NGOs from Mexico, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
25-year-old Turks and Caicos Islander and Founder of Decomp, Gabriel Saunders, was invited by EUDEL to Mexico to be a panelist on their “Youth Initiatives: How to Make a Difference” roundtable.
The young social entrepreneur credited the Turks and Caicos Islands for igniting his interest in the environment through providing him with opportunities to meet two world-renowned environmentalists in former American Vice President, Al Gore, and Dr. David Suzuki, by the age of 12.
In their efforts to make an impact, Saunders encouraged his fellow young people to get involved in any way, shape or form that they can and suggested that those aspiring to be social entrepreneurs should conduct informational interviews with social entrepreneurs or even ask to get involved with their start-ups in order to gain a deeper understanding of the inner workings of social enterprises. He also drove home a message of persistence – particularly when faced with challenges and naysayers.
“Keep pushing forward and making an impact. One of the biggest things in entrepreneurship is persistence. If you are persistent, you are going to start seeing results,” stated Saunders.
Some of the other speakers included the European Union’s Ambassador to Mexico, His Excellency Gautier Mignot, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Mexico, His Excellency Jon Benjamin, and the United States of America’s Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar.
“It was an honour to be a part of the Young Mexican Leaders for Climate Action and Biodiversity Promotion conference. This was an incredible event that has many – including myself – excited for the future and extremely motivated to work on bettering our planet. I would like to thank the European Union’s Delegation to Mexico for inviting me to be a panelist, as well as for providing me with a massive platform to discuss Decomp” added Saunders.
Saunders’ biotechnology start-up, Decomp, seeks to tackle plastic waste pollution through genetically engineering proprietary plastic-degrading microbes and utilizing them to facilitate the degradation of plastics in weeks, as opposed to the 400-1,000 years that plastics take to naturally decompose.
In September, Saunders presented Decomp to North America’s senior environmental officials at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s (CEC’s) 28th Council Session.
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is governed and funded equally by the Canadian, American, and Mexican governments, and was established to implement the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) – the environmental side accord to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).