The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has launched the Generation of Environmental Leaders Program (GELP), a new initiative to support young leaders in developing the necessary skills and accessing seed funding to make a meaningful impact in their communities and beyond.

The selected youth will benefit from a year-long mentorship program, networking opportunities across North America, receive CDN$15,000 in seed funding and have the chance to present their solutions to North America’s ministers of environment as part of the CEC’s annual Council Session.

“Through the CEC’s Generation of Environmental Leaders Program, we are bringing young environmental leaders from across North America into the CEC family,” said Jorge Daniel Taillant, executive director of CEC. “The GELP is providing youth with the necessary skills and meaningful opportunities to engage with and work alongside the CEC to solve the region’s most pressing environmental challenges, such as climate change, pollution reduction, biodiversity loss and environmental equity.”

The GELP invites teams of young leaders from North America to support communities and preserve our shared waters, lands and air. The program is aimed at youth who are 18–35 years old and are part of a team such as, but not exclusively, youth-led organizations, youth-led associations, nongovernmental organizations, not-for-profit youth-led businesses, and teams of youth innovators and entrepreneurs interested in building their businesses.

In addition to building capacity for youth, this new CEC program will accelerate youth leadership by expanding youth environmental networks and provide seed funding for creative solutions to flourish, particularly at the local level. As part of the year-long mentorship program, the leaders will also engage in knowledge-sharing sessions with experts to advance their solutions and contribute to a North American community of knowledge. The program will support impactful and enduring community-driven activities and establish a robust youth network across North America.

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The GELP will also provide extended networking opportunities for participants. Selected solutions will be presented to the public and leaders can engage with the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee and Traditional Ecological Knowledge Expert Group, as well as Government officials and experts, during the CEC Council Session, an ideal platform to showcase the impactful ideas at the ministerial level.

As part of the year-long mentorship program, youth leaders will receive advice from experts to help advance their solutions and guidance on various elements of their projects, including how to pitch their solutions and on a range of project development and management topics that include, among others, risk management, budgeting, outreach and fundraising.

Applicants must demonstrate that their solutions can address or respond to critical issues related to supporting our communities and preserving our shared waters, lands and air across North America. Submissions should be practical, effective, achievable and propose sustainable solutions to an identifiable environmental problem. They should also be context-specific and consider the unique characteristics of the community or region targeted by the project.

The eligibility and evaluation criteria will prioritize solutions that have established a clear objective and will have a significant impact on local communities and their environment:

  • Impact and community engagement (40%)
  • Feasibility (25%)
  • Alignment with CEC’s strategic pillars and the program theme (15%)
  • Identification of problem/issue (10%)
  • Innovation (10%)

Priority will be given to solutions identified or developed jointly with communities, including community members who traditionally do not have access to decision-making spaces.

Submission deadline: Completed submissions must be uploaded to Foundant by 23:59 local time on March 31, 2024.

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Click here to learn more about the program, the submission guidelines and criteria, and to apply.

For more information about the Generation of Environmental Leaders Program and the submission process, please join CEC for a virtual information session on February 29 from 1:00 pm–2:00 pm Eastern Time, available with simultaneous interpretation in English, French and Spanish.

Featured image credit: Getty Images


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