“There are very few chances you get as a young person to have honest one on one conversations with government leaders,” shares Middlebury Institute international environmental policy student Molly McKeon MAIEP '16, talking about her recent trip to Japan to participate in a meeting with young parliamentarians at an international aid conference. “And there I was talking trade offs between sustainability and development in French over lunch with the MPs from Togo and catching up with the MP from Panama about how environment might fit into her agenda.” Molly was invited to participate in the conference as part of her Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum Young Leader Program.
Thirty Young Leaders from around the world participated in the conference and met with politicians, experts and young parliamentarians to discuss issues related to aid and development. “It was inspiring and humbling to meet the leaders of so many developing countries and hear directly from them a call for a radical shift in the way development is done,” says Molly. As a Returned Peace Corp Volunteer who served in China 2011-2013, and a Middlebury Institute student, Molly was able to use her background in development and environmental policy to connect on important topics related to sustainable growth. She describes a new generation of leaders who recognize the importance of environmental issues more deeply than any generation in the past and is excited to be on the frontlines of meaningful policy change.