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Announcing the 2030 Climate Champions: Young Leaders for a Brighter U.S.-China Future

November 20, 2023 — To address the urgent need for collaboration and a path towards a more sustainable future between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, The Asia Foundation is introducing the first cohort of 2030 Climate Champions Fellowship. Comprising a cohort of ten young environmental leaders from the U.S. and China, the fellowship aims to promote greater cross-cultural dialogue between youth in both countries through a partnership with the U.S. Mission to China and the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO). The 2030 Climate Champions Fellowship will strengthen diplomatic relationships ahead of the goals set forth by the 2015 COP27 Paris Agreements, where signing parties agreed to reduce their emissions by 43% by 2030 and revisit their original targets by 2023.

The 2030 Climate Champions Fellowship supports young leaders from both countries to exchange insights and jointly identify opportunities and actions. Over four months, the cohort will work together through a peer-learning platform and engage with our broad networks in both the U.S. and China and the social and civil networks of the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO).

The program includes virtual skill-building sessions led by former Asia Foundation Development Fellow and newly appointed president of Rappler, Natashya Guiterrez. It also features virtual master-class sessions led by environmental experts from the U.S. and China, including Michael Kobori, Starbucks’ chief sustainability officer, and Li Shuo, the incoming director of China Climate Hub at the Asia Society Policy Institute. The first team-building session was held on October 30, 2023, followed by a Climate Diplomacy masterclass on November 17, 2023. The 2030 Climate Champions Fellowship will culminate with a hybrid forum scheduled for April 15-16, 2024, in San Francisco and Beijing. The event will showcase the Climate Champions’ work on improving diplomatic endeavors between their countries, featuring keynote speeches and discussions with experts, policymakers, and key stakeholders.

Meet the 2030 Climate Champions:

United States cohort

Nkosi Muse is a PhD student at the University of Miami, specializing in Environmental Science. Muse is interested in mitigating contributions to global warming and ensuring that cities, both within the United States and globally, are equitably prepared for the implications of climate change. His research involves mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, from identifying exposure and vulnerability to climate threats to analyzing and proposing equitable and inclusive policy, specifically focused on extreme heat.

Madeline Craig-Scheckman is a PhD student and research assistant at Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, specializing in equitable renewable energy solutions in Southeast Asia. She holds a master’s degree from The George Washington University, where she studied climate security and U.S.-China relations and conducted field research on Thai solar energy development. Previously, Madeline helped manage the development of large community solar projects at the DC Sustainable Energy Utility.

Swathi Manchikanti is the health and climate adaptation lead with UNICEF’s Healthy Environment for Healthy Children Program, which aims to support governments in identifying and addressing the most pressing climate and environmental hazards affecting child health and global well-being. She has ten years of experience working on climate-informed water, sanitation, and health programs and has supported implementing interventions improving community resilience in Jordan, Zambia, and India.

Azmal Hossan is a sociology PhD. student and a National Research Trainee in Interdisciplinary Training, Education, and Research in Food-Energy-Water Systems at Colorado State University. Before joining the PhD. program, Azmal completed his Master’s in Sociology at Texas Tech University and Bachelor of Social Science in Sociology at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Daniel McDermott specializes in greenhouse gas accounting and data-driven sustainability strategies and has been an environmental consultant for the last eleven years. He currently heads his firm’s Air Emissions Monitoring and Reporting services, focusing on staying ahead of dynamic sustainability trends and crafting management strategies aligned with industry best practices.

China cohort

Zhang Lingxiao is a dedicated professional with a strong background in Development Studies and Economics from SOAS, University of London. She is passionate about international development, climate change, and sustainability. As the biodiversity and climate change education sector manager in China and program manager for the Young Leaders Fund, she leads initiatives engaging citizens in climate change issues.

Yu Qi is a dedicated practitioner in the impact investment field, focusing on how technology can combat climate change. Currently, she oversees the environmental sector investment in the Venture Philanthropy department under the Sany Foundation, an affiliation of the Sany Group. Prior to that, she had several experiences in incubators, VCs, and international banks.

Du Yusi seeks to empower the Chinese-speaking community through knowledge sharing, particularly on the issue of climate change. Her interest in international affairs led her to pursue a master’s in international relations at the University of California, San Diego. Currently, she serves as a project manager at an English TV station in Beijing.

Luo Yi is the founder of the Lao Tu social enterprise and is committed to urban and rural sustainable development, especially consumer and youth education. Lao Tu uses storytelling to promote rural sustainable development and lead green lifestyles. Yi graduated with a master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s in History and Environmental Analysis from Claremont McKenna College.

Zhai Yubo serves as general manager of the Carbon Neutrality Division of Newlink and has worked in the energy transition and clean energy field for over ten years. He has assisted Newlink with implementing important international energy innovation projects and developing various standards and methodologies in transportation carbon emission reduction. He was invited to attend COP 26 and COP 27 to share Chinese enterprise’s low-carbon innovation practices.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives and expanding opportunities across Asia and the Pacific. Informed by 70 years of experience and deep local knowledge, our work is focused on governance, climate action, gender equity, education and leadership, inclusive growth, and international cooperation. We work in more than 20 countries through our 17 permanent country offices and programs across Asia and the Pacific, supported by a headquarters in San Francisco and an office in Washington, DC. Our funding comes from a diverse array of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, foundations, corporations, and individuals.

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Related locations: China
Related programs: Environment and Climate Action, Leadership & Exchanges

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Eelynn Sim, Director, Strategy and Programs
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