Participants' Testimonial - Marina Porto (#YCL2018Immersion)

Updated: Nov 28, 2019


Marina (in the center) visiting the UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi

In the beginning of 2018 I knew I wanted to work with climate change, but I did not know how to make it possible. I have always been passionate about environmental issues and found my purpose in life in fighting climate change. I have been working in the financial sector and entrepreneurship for the past few years, but this experience has not been enough to help me land a job in the field. That was when I learned about the Youth Climate Leaders immersion. The moment I saw the program and what we were supposed to engage in, I knew I had to join it!


What followed was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. During the first 10 days, in Paris, we visited international organizations that are key to climate change multilateral cooperation, such as UN Environment, OECD and UNESCO, talked to NGOs, academia and had the chance to visit the National Assembly of France. After Paris, we went to Kenya for 30 days to explore the effects of climate change on the country and in which ways it is being tackled.


We stayed half of our time in the capital, Nairobi, where we had incredible panels at the University of Nairobi, as well as visited organizations that have been doing a great job in promoting green initiatives, such as the UN Environment headquarters, Kenya Climate Innovation Center, Laikipia Permaculture Center (in Laikipia) and ILEPA (in Narok). The other half of the time, we were mainly in Meru, a rural county where we developed a consultancy project related to community engagement, financial stability and climate

change education to an NGO that works with Sustainable Primary Schools in the region.


Besides all the knowledge related to climate change, the immersion also focused on self-awareness. As stated in the book “From Ego-system to EcoSystem Economies” by Otto Scharmer, a good leader needs to be aware of its surroundings and truly present in the moment in order to be open to the future that wants to emerge and to create solutions that people really want and really need. Taking the time to learn techniques on how to do it and develop these soft skills was definitely useful in our project in Kenya and it is certainly something that I will take with me for life.


One of the objectives of YCL is to help young people to find job opportunities in the field of climate change, and I can say that, for me, it fulfilled this purpose. After the immersion, I started a Master’s in Environmental and Natural Resources Economics at the University of Copenhagen and managed to get a job in a consultancy group to work with policy analysis for sustainable development projects. I am sure that being part of YCL was a well-recognized experience in the recruiting process and also gave me the skills I needed for this new challenge. Moreover, I now have an amazing network of global young leaders with whom I keep in touch knowing that we will certainly build amazing things together. The world is one, and so are we!