Journaling #YCL2019Immersion

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Last week we concluded our YCL 2019 Immersion, and we are now proud to welcome 23 new members from 14 countries to our YCL Network! As YCL Fellows, they will have access to opportunities offered by the network, such as Field Placements worldwide, job vacancies and Delegations to global events. This community of practice now have more than 120 members from 20 countries and 4 continents!

THANK YOU for the hospitality of the 17 organizations that partnered with us for the visits, lectures, and activities. A special thank you for ICLEI and for the Columbia Global Centers Rio de Janeiro, our official partners for this year's edition. We have prepared a detailed journal with all the details of the visits and activities below!



Berlin, 2th August 2019: DAY #1 - Welcome to Berlin!


We welcomed the participants at Kernvoll, first vegan catering which is 100% organic certified, located in the heart of Berlin. Christian and Tommy gave a great intro about the #vegan food scene in the city, as well as the importance of civil society and business to be politically engaged to drive transformations in the world.


"Eating is a political act. And three times a day, we have the choice of supporting this cruel food system or not" - Christian


The entire menu was delicious, but the highlights are for sure the vegan sausages and the vegan schnitzel. It was an evening full of laughs, ideas and discussions, sourrounded by food made with genuine ingredients, catered and served with competence and love. Thank you for this great start of our journey, Kernvoll. We could not have asked for a better event place to start this journey!


Berlin, 3rd August 2019: DAY #2 - Introduction to YCL & Group Projects


Today we started first induction - 23 young leaders from 14 countries are gathered in Berlin Germany to explore the theme about sustainable cities and climate action.

We did a presentation about U Theory, developed by Otto Scharmer. Cassia stated that climate change is a big challenge, and there are no solutions that are ready to solve it. Therefore there is great potential to new solutions if we have open heart and will to work collaboratively.


After that we gave an intro about Design Thinking, a method of innovation management developed at the Stanford University that relies on a co-creative process involving end-user feedback. For the immersion, we have decided to use design thinking tools from the UNLEASH inovation process, that was developed by Delloite in partnership with 200 partners in 2017, and is dedicated specifically to develop the SDGs.

UNLEASH innovation process introduction

After this introduction, we distributed the participants in four groups to develop their respective group project :

  1. Energy

  2. Food & Agriculture

  3. Urban Mobility

  4. Urban Planning

The rest of the day was dedicated to kickoff the project with the Problem Framing step. On this first step, the participants should define a problem are based on actionable insights into real life challenges. Think about the sustainable development challenge that you care about solving from the point-of-view of your user. The had to fill the following template:

[User] needs to [user’s need] because [insight]

The user should be a noun - a person or organisation.

The user’s need should be a verb - an action or requirement.

The insight should be friction, not a fact. The more actionable that your insight is, the easier it will be to start coming up with exciting, unique solutions.

Berlin, 4th August 2019: DAY #3 - Bike Tour with the Critical Mass Berlin


Today we were welcome by Jan Michael Ihl and Michael Schulte, from the Critical Mass Berlin and Changing Cities, initiatives empowered by the locals in Berlin that advocate for a better urban mobility infrastructure.


They took us for a bike ride to explore the different bike lanes and infrastructures, where we were able to see the challenges of biking in Berlin. It was enlightening to have the perspective of locals to see that even if Berlin positions as a great city for bikers, they still have a lot to go to make bike lanes more accessible. Thank you so much for allowing us to see Berlin through your eyes and showing the challenges and the importance of engaging society for more human cities.


Berlin, 7th August 2019: DAY #4 - Greifswald University & Moabit West


We had the pleasure of having a lecture from Dr. Braun from Greifswald University, where university, city administration and civil society developed the city’s climate protection alliance. Climate is challenge that will require cities to work with multiple stakeholders to develop and implant new solutions and improve people’s lives.


After giving his inputs to the group’s project, we said goodbye to Dr. Braun and headed to Moabit West, neighborhood part of the #SSD program (smart sustainable cities), an initiative from Climate Kic to conduct an investigation with the citizens about sustainability and city infrastructure. Before that we had a quick talk with João Kino Prado, citizen of the neighbourhood, for some insights and views about his life in the region.


Berlin, 6th August 2019: DAY #5 - Visit to GIZ & Group Project


Today We visited the GIZ office that works on the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) to learn how cities finance new solutions to mitigate climate change in cities worldwide. GIZ has over 50 years of experience in a wide variety of areas, including economic development and employment promotion, energy and the environment, and peace and security.


In the afternoon we had a picnic at Tiergarten, where we continued to work in the group projects, this time focusing on the Ideation step. This step is quite fun, and consists in research, brainstorming, debating and evaluating ideas to solve the problem framed. Most importantly, it is the step to evaluate if the idea is viable on the financially, socially and environmentally.





Berlin, 7th August 2019: DAY #6 - Visit to GIZ & Group Project



We visited Agora Energiewende to learn Germany’s transition to green energy and their scholarship programs. Philipp Hauser presented a great debate about leadership, sustainable economy and climate careers - what an inspiring way to start the day.


In the afternoon we visited IASS (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies), where we were welcomed by Prof. Dr. Mark Lawrence, Angela Borowski, Michael Palmer, Charlotte Unger and Carolin Fraude. We learned about their different fellowship programs and their Summer school programs. We closed the visit with an important debate about how to make science mainstream.






Berlin, 8th August 2019: DAY #7

Visit to ECF Farm & Prinzessinnengarten


Today our participants dedicated their time to learn more about food and agriculture - great coincidence, since the new IPCC report was released today and the subject was about An IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

We started the day by visiting ECF Farm - they presented their business plan and their startup strategy to develop urban farms using tilapias and hydroponics to produce basil and tomatoes.

We continued the day by visiting the Prinzessinnengarten, an urban farm located in the heart of Berlin, empowered by civil society. They produce more than 100 different ingredients for the restaurant and café. The day finished with an inspiring talk with Stasiek Cabezas, land use consultant from Climate Focus, a think tank company with 5 offices worldwide. We had a great discussion about the nexus about food and climate change - the message is clear: we need to rethink the way we produce, distribute and consume food.


Berlin, 9th August 2019: DAY #8

Visit to DLR ( Institute for Transport Research)


Today is our last day in Berlin and our days have been equally intense and insightful ❤️ We were welcomed once again at Agora Energiewende to continue to work on our group project.. Thank you for opening the doors to us, it was a pleasure to see you again!

We continued the day with a visit the transportation Research department from DLR, the German Space Agency. We had the pleasure of debating about health and transportation, free public transport and insights about testing solutions for transportation in Germany, we learned so much about it! .



10th & 11th August 2019: DAY #9 & #10 - Travelling to Bonn & Day off


After working so hard in Berlin, we embarked to Bonn, that is approximately 6h from Berlin. The participants are getting along so well, the trip was long but we had lots of fun! On the next day we took the day to recover from the trip and recharge our batteries for the second week of the journey. Some of us did a hike in the forest, some did the free walking tour and a few of us went to Cologne. We also celebrated Eid Al-Adha on the sunday, an important religious festival celebrated by the Muslim community all over the world with a group dinner!


12th August 2019: DAY #11

Meeting with Mayor of Bonn & visit to Germanwatch

After resting in the weekend, we’re back in track! This morning we were welcomed at the city hall by the Mayor of Bonn, Mr. Ashok Sridharan. We had a discussion about the importance of the youth in engaging politically at any and all levels. Mayors need the support from civil society to speed the green transition.



The message to YCL Network was short and simple: Act. Go on and raise your voice.

We were very happy with the presence of the Friday's For the Future Bonn with us. Thank you ICLEI in helping us in the organisation of this meeting.

After this inspiring meeting, we continued the day by visiting German Watch, a non-profit coalition of research and political articulation, to debate the many layers of power that are ahead of us to make Germany sustainable.


In the afternoon we kicked-off the prototyping step of our group project, that is the last step before the presentation to the jury. This step consists in conceptualise the chosen solution, by framing the pilot, describe the solution in further details, developing a budge and a timeline for the implementation of the proposed solution.


13th August 2019: DAY #12 - Group Project & visit Humboldt Foundation


Today we spend most of the day working in our group project, which was perfect since it was a rainy and cold day. We were able to advance on the prototyping stage, that consists in filling up the Solution Canvas, as well as the development of a concept note, a 2-pager document specifying the solution.


We closed the day with a visit to the Humboldt Foundation, an organisation that sponsor international scientists from all over the world to develop their researches in Germany.

We had the presence of @diogoandreola that is an alumni from the foundation, and gave a great testimonial about his work on climate justice and his scholarship there. Great way to close the day, thank you all for the warm hospitality.




14th August 2019: DAY #13 - Group Project finalisation & Zen Break


We spent the day at the Global Landscapes Forum premises - thank you so much of offering us your space! We were able to finish our group projects and practice for the pitch tomorrow.


We also managed to take good care of ourselves with a stretch guided by Silmarie and a meditation session with Manoj.





15th August 2019: DAY #14

Visit to UNFCCC, Presentation of Group Project & Goodbye!


This is an emotional journaling since it is the last day of our journey 😭We started the day with a visit to UNFCCC where he had an inspiring talk about climate negotiation. We were welcomed by Dr. Koko Warner, followed by Adriana Valenzuela to present the ACE Youth Forum, the Fellowship program and the Career Platform at ONU.


Then we headed to the Global Landscapes Forum where we had the presentation of our group projects to the ICLEI jury. It was challenging and satisfying to see the results of our work and listen to their feedback and recommendations to implement them in our countries once we get back home.


The closing of the immersion was full of joy, laughs, tears, hugs, and wishes. It is very powerful to be around such amazing talents from so many different places and backgrounds working and growing together. We feel nothing but grateful for the privilege of being on your side the past days.

Our wishes to our new YCL members are courage and resilience to keep taking action, to take your leadership skills to inspire others. We need more and more people engaged in reducing the emissions of our cities. .

We say goodbye for now but we are sure that we will remain in contact, working and supporting each other on tackling climate change - SO PROUD to have you all in the YCL Network and family ❤️🌎


We'd like to also say THANK YOU for all our amazing partners and friends, you were fundamental to the success of this amazing learning journey!