Melissa Yoon: "I believe every single person has a link to climate change in some way."

The Adam Majcher Legacy Program seeks to build the capabilities of a future climate leader with placements across ClimateWorks, the Climate Reality Project and Common Cause. 

This award honours the work of Adam Majcher who was an invaluable member of the ClimateWorks team from 2015 until he suddenly passed away in August 2017. Adam was a unique contributor, renowned for bringing people together to tackle and solve the climate challenge. The inaugural award in his name was this year given to 24 year old Melissa Yoon. Here she shares her ClimateWorks experience.

I’ve always had a strong drive and sense of responsibility to be there for others. I care deeply about climate change because it’s one of the greatest issues facing our world today. It presents one of the greatest opportunities to help others, and create change.

The Adam Majcher program aligns with my approach to climate solutions, focusing on connecting with people to work collaboratively, and promoting positive stories of others already taking action. The program is really unique and it’s an amazing opportunity to progress further in my career. I was really excited to work with ClimateWorks, the Climate Reality Project and Common Cause. I am grateful to have people teaching me so much and investing in my learning and growth, so that I can go on and have an even greater impact in the future.

We already know we urgently need to address climate change. For me, the key gap now is working out the specifics of how we make the transition to a low carbon society. Through ClimateWorks, I’m learning how to think strategically about how to grapple with these big complex problems. What kind of questions need to be asked, who should be involved, who’s not in the room, what are the specific changes we want to see? Looking at how we would want the world to ideally be and then working backwards from there, breaking it down into doable steps. Instead of trying to force our way through barriers, we can look for creative ways to work around them. It’s about identifying where the gaps are, because that’s where we can add extra value. This way of thinking is really valuable to me as I can apply to almost anything.

I’ve learnt that we can’t do this transition alone. An essential ingredient is engaging and collaborating with a diverse range of people. It can be particularly powerful to work with people who might otherwise be considered on the “other side”. It’s also really important to bring in the people who will be directly impacted on the ground by the changing climate. I’m really grateful that at ClimateWorks I’m learning how to adapt to interacting with different people. 

It feels really powerful when you have a community of people that are all working towards the same thing. There’s this huge momentum. It’s possible to see progress through the work of others.

Through the fellowship, I am working across different organisations and talking to a variety of people with diverse experiences and knowledge. It’s a cross pollination of information. I want to continue to spread these learnings to support others in this space and enhance their work too.

I believe every single person has a link to climate change in some way. From Pacific Islanders who are losing their homes due to sea level rise, to indigenous people who are intrinsically connected to the land - even inner city Melbournians trying to get a cup of coffee – because coffee beans will be harder to grow with changing climatic conditions. It exacerbates a whole lot of existing human rights issues, from women’s rights to people seeking asylum.

I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to meet Adam, but I’ve met many people throughout my program that knew him personally. I’ve heard lots of stories about how he was such a delight to be around and how he was great at bringing people together. I try to reflect on how I can embody his approach and honour his legacy in my own work.

For me, the next step is deciding how I can share what I have learnt, with who, in what way, and how I can collaborate with people. I want to keep following in Adam’s footsteps and find the next great opportunity to keep pursuing climate solutions.