the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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Young Americans Building a Sustainable Future

The winners of the Youth Sustainability Challenge gathered at the White House to meet senior environmental policy-makers and discuss how young people can be leaders in promoting sustainability in their campuses, schools, and hometowns.

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting with the extraordinary winners of the Youth Sustainability Challenge.  We launched this challenge this spring to encourage young people from across the United States to tell the world what they’re doing in their communities to foster sustainability – and these winners rose to the occasion.  

Our winners represent the innovation and talent of young Americans making a difference in communities across the Nation every day.  From college student organizations that create “Solar Streets” in their communities, to youth-directed community micro-grant programs that provide assistance to young people for conservation projects, the winners of the Challenge have all applied their skill, creativity, and energy to make their communities stronger and healthier.

Youth Sustainability Challenge Winners

Council on Environmental Quality Deputy Director Gary Guzy speaks during a panel discussion at the White House with representatives from the winning teams of the Youth Sustainability Challenge (White House Council on Environmental Quality)

You can learn more about the innovative projects of our five winners by watching their short videos, which we featured at the“Rio+20” U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June.  At the conference, we also sponsored a Forum on Youth Action to highlight the commitment and creativity of these young people and the millions like them across the United States and the globe. 

To complement these events, today, the Challenge winners came to Washington, D.C. to meet with senior environmental policy-makers from the Administration, like EPA’s Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. They discussed how young people can lead their campuses, schools, and hometowns in environmental initiatives.  They also met with youth engagement leaders from the White House and EPA, and learned more about programs like EPA’s EcoAmbassadors. 

These remarkable young people have reminded me of the importance of harnessing the creativity and passion of America’s youth in facing the critical issues of our day.  Young people today have remarkable new tools and connective technologies at their fingertips to understand the world and others’ experiences, to generate and share solutions to sustainability challenges, and to inspire action. Here in Washington, we will continue to factor their insight and enthusiasm into our work.  As they return to their schools and communities, it is our hope that the dialogue we had here during their visit will serve as a foundation for fresh initiatives and innovative solutions to our shared global challenges.

Gary Guzy is Deputy Director and General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality