Civil Society Youth-Led Briefing

Organized in partnership with the UN Environment Programme

11 November 2021

10 - 11:30 a.m. EST



Segment One

Moderator Welcome

Saphira Rameshfar
NGO Representative to the United Nations Baha'i International Community and Alumni, DGC Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee

 Welcome and Opening Remarks

Andi Gitow
Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, Department of Global Communications (DGC)

Discussion Panel, The Intersection of Climate Action and Gender Equality

Verona Collantes
Policy Advisor and Climate Change Expert, UN Women

Fatemah Alzelzela
Co-founder of Eco Star - Young Champion for West Asia, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Divine Ntiokam
Founder, Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network Global (GCSAYN)

Chinenye Juliet Ejezie
West Africa Hub Coordinator and Nigeria Country Coordinator, Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network Global (GCSAYN)

Kiemi Brown-Rivers
Student, Louisiana State University, and Intern, Civil Society Unit, UN Department of Global Communications (DGC) 

Segment Two: A Focus on the COP26 Outcome and why the youth matter

Videos from the youth at COP26

Kehkashan Basu
Founder and President of Green Hope Foundation, United Nations Human Rights Champion  


Olumide Idowu
Mr. Climate, Founder of Climate Wednesday, Nigerian Climate Change Champion


Keziah Theresse Gerosano
Founder of Project Pusaka, Student, Climate Reality Leader 


Segment Three: Spotlight on the Youth Climate Compact from the 68th Session of the United Nations Civil Society Conference (August 2019, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) 

Rosleny Ubiñas
NGO Youth Representative for National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'i of the US and Co-Chair, DGC Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee

Segment Four: Closing Remarks 

Ashley Yong
NGO Youth Representative, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and Member, DGC Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee

Sophia Holt
Intern, Civil Society Unit, Department of Global Communications (DGC)

Saphira Rameshfar
NGO Representative to the United Nations Baha'i International Community and Alumni, DGC Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee 



Andi Gitow

Andi Gitow is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist, filmmaker and communication expert who is currently heading advocacy, civil society relations and entertainment industry engagement at the United Nations’ Department of Global Communications.

Andi has served in a variety of roles at the UN including as Deputy Director of the UN office in Washington, where she was a key liaison with the White House, State Department, Pentagon and U.S. Congress, as well as with civil society. She also served as Head of Global Campaigns and Films for the UN’s Humanitarian arm; as Head of Partnerships in the UN’s Media Division; and as Executive Producer, overseeing the creation of award-winning films, broadcast and digital content.

Andi has also headed Strategy, Partnerships and Media at Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation, overseeing communications, managing large-scale partnerships and co-productions, and spearheading immersive innovations. She also spent nearly a decade as a broadcast journalist at NBC Network News. Andi has traveled to and reported from more than 50 countries, covering stories on genocide, human rights and humanitarian issues and has focused on social impact storytelling. Her work has garnered more than 30 prestigious awards, including two Emmys.

Andi is also a frequent speaker on foreign policy issues and advises the entertainment community, including serving as an expert consultant to the Emmy-Award winning series The Handmaid’s Tale.

She holds an undergraduate and Masters’ Degree from Columbia University.


Saphira Rameshfar

Saphira is a representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations. Her areas of work include gender equality, youth empowerment, and peace and security. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, and as co-chair of their Youth Leaders and Young Professionals program (Berkely Center). 

Saphira is an alumini of the UN DGC Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee.




Verona Collantes

Verona Collantes is an Intergovernmental Specialist with UN Women and the focal point for the three Rio Conventions – climate change, desertification and biodiversity. She works with governments, UN entities and other non-government partners to ensure that intergovernmental processes and their outcomes incorporate a gender perspective. Dedicated to improving women’s participation in global processes, Ms. Collantes works to ensure that women, including grassroots, indigenous and young women are represented in intergovernmental forum.




Fatemah Alzelzela

Fatemah, a 24-year-old electrical engineer who is the co-founder of Eco-Star, a non-profit group that recycles materials from business and households. Since launching in early 2019, Eco Star has recycled over three-and-a-half tons of plastic, 10 tons of paper and 120 tons of metal. That is a notable feat in a country where 90 percent of waste – from food to sewage to petroleum – ends up in landfills. Ms. Alzelzela also set up an innovative partnership with a large nursery so Eco-Star gives their customers shrubs and trees in exchange for their recycling.For that work, Ms. Alzelzela was recently named a Young Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She is one of seven prize winners who will receive funding and mentorship to support their environmental initiatives. 



Divine Ntiokam

As founder and Managing Director of the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network, Divine Ntiokam has set up a global Food System Summit Heros Database and convened dialogues surrounding sustainable food systems.

Divine Ntiokam recognizes the critical importance of the youth in building a resilient, sustainable and prosperous agricultural sector in Africa. This passion drove Divine to start the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) in May 2014, of which he is now the Managing Director. Teams in 65 countries work to raise awareness of Climate Smart Agriculture among young men and women, educating them in the benefits of sustainable approaches to increasing agricultural yields and resilience. Alongside his role in CSAYN, Divine was elected as the African Continental Vice President of Youth in Livestock, Fisheries and Aquaculture Incubation Network in July 2018. By providing business incubation and powerful networks of support, the Network aims to build an Africa in which youth-owned enterprises in animal resources contribute to poverty reduction and food security. In addition, he was equally nominated as one of the Food and Land Use (FOLU).


Chinenye Juliet Ejezie

Chinenye Juliet Ejezie from Nigeria, is the Country Coordinator GCSAYN Nigeria and Hub Coordinator GCSAYN West African Region.
She is the CEO of Dozliet Anim Farms Nigeria, which focuses on Pig rearing and pork processing.

She is so passionate about Youth and Women involvement in Profitable Agric Business which made her to join the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN). This is a Global Network that has interest in sensitizing and building the productive capacity of Youths and Women in Climate Smart Agriculture. She contributes her own farming business experience to the CSAYN objective by holding teachings/seminars for youths on agribusiness. She also collaborate with other agro-experts to reach farmers on improved practices they can adopt other than traditional practices to boost their farm produce.
She authored Pig farming guide for beginners, a handbook for farmers intending to set up a small or medium scale pig farm.


Kiémi Brown-Rivers

Kiémi Adina Brown Rivers is a 20-year-old honors student at Louisiana State University majoring in French and International Studies. In her sophomore year, Kiémi conceptualized and helped found the Black Women’s Empowerment Initiative, the first organization dedicated to ensuring the academic, mental, and social wellbeing of Black women on campus. As Vice President, Kiémi crafted initiatives to reach out to the local Baton Rouge community in order to support the literacy and education of young people, in particular young girls from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. In 2019, She was honored for her work with BWEI for gender and racial equality and was awarded the Umoja Undergraduate Student Award by Office of Multicultural Affairs at LSU. Continuing her interest for activism and community involvement Kiémi serves as President of  the Young People’s Division of the Allen AME Cathedral Missionary Society, where she has sat on numerous panels on topics such as sexism in religious spaces, environmental racism and asthma in New York City, and youth involvement.  Kiémi has participated in numerous dialogues on topics such as Race and Gender Intersectionality and Decolonizing climate solutions. As an intern for the Civil Society Unit of the DGC, Kiémi has had the pleasure of working with and learning from young people all over the world with a passion for both gender equality and climate issues.


Rosleny Ubiñas

Rosleny joined the United Nations Office of National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States​ in August 2017. One of her roles is to explore ways youth can contribute to the betterment of society by working with non-governmental organizations and other youth advocates on issues such as racial inequality, advancement of women, and the role of religion in society. Her previous work experience includes adolescent counseling along with development for academic and non-profit organizations.

She holds a B.A. in Psychology and Africana Studies from Franklin & Marshall College.

Rosleny was part of the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women Conference Planning Committee by serving on the Artisan Fair sub-committee and Reception sub-committee. Rosleny was the Youth Co-chair of the Conference Planning Social Media Sub-committee to the 67th UN DPI/NGO Conference in New York, NY. She currently serves as a co-chair of the UN DGC Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee.


Ashley Yong

Ashley is currently serving as the DGC youth representative to the UN of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, and is the project coordinator of Tzu Chi’s aid project in the Republic of Sierra Leone. An advocate for climate action and environmental protection, Ashley works with other young people to build communities with responsible and sustainable lifestyles. Recognizing the urgency of climate issues and its interconnectedness to other global issues, she wishes to raise awareness and call for more actionable commitments by youth around the globe.



Sophia Holt

Sophia Holt is a recent graduate of Lehigh University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with high honors and now works as an intern for the United Nations Department of Global Communications within the Civil Society Unit. Sophia has previous experience working with UN entities as the Lehigh University United Nations Partnership Intern. In this role, she worked with the former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Satya Tripathi, to create a virtual program addressing the topic of climate refugees, co-sponsored by two international universities. Additionally, she was a member of the leadership team tasked with hosting America’s first Model International Labour Organization (ILO) Conference. Sophia is passionate about the effects of climate change on the global population, forced migration, and conflict resolution. For Sophia’s scholarship, research, and passion for the subject, she received the 2021 Carey B. Joynt International Relations Leadership Award for Academic Excellence from the Lehigh University International Relations Department. Sophia plans to follow her passions by pursuing a J.D. and working in the international field, with particular interests in diplomacy, international litigation, and immigration policy.