YouTube invited me to #COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt!
What even is COP27? COP stands for “Conference Of The Parties” — it’s a United Nations climate change conference where Heads of State, organisations (including private sectors) and all key players come together to discuss and agree on policies and adapt to impacts associated with climate change.
So what was I doing there for its 27th edition?
My name is Dr. Adanna Steinacker, a medical doctor and — for almost a decade — a YouTube creator. My channel, "House of Adanna," has focused on family and lifestyle content, and recently I have had a growing interest in creating educational content around sustainability and kids. My professional channel, "Digital Medics Academy," focuses on increasing credible health information on YouTube, including the impact of climate change on health.
For years, conferences of this nature have been gated, attended by men in tailored suits, making it difficult for the rest of the world to understand how we can all take individual action to do better for our planet.
Over the years, it became evident that not only women, but YouTube creators, needed to be included to raise public awareness and promote a shared understanding of the urgent need to take climate action a critical priority of our future. YouTube creators are here to make it relatable!
We cannot talk about the future of our planet without acknowledging our children — they are the future.
I connected emotionally with the conversation about the climate crisis after attending the first YouTube Climate Action Summit in London. An activist from Pakistan on the summit stage spoke about the flooding in Pakistan and how much it has affected the children in her local community whose schools are underwater. I cried. As a mother, I could not imagine if those were my kids.
I felt that the best way to authentically entwine the climate change conversation to my existing content was to educate my kids and inspire other parents to do the same. After all, we cannot talk about the future of our planet without acknowledging our children — they are the future.
Let me take you through my time at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
I boarded my flight from London Heathrow Airport to Istanbul, Turkey. It was a smooth flight and a short connection before hopping on another flight from Istanbul to Sharm El-Sheikh. The airport was busy, and the flight was full because all roads currently lead to COP27! After settling down on the plane, I could not help but observe how professionally dressed the two passengers behind me were, especially on a 1 AM flight departure time. We would later discover these were the Presidents of Latvia and Mongolia.
Coincidentally and pleasantly, YouTube’s Global Head of Impact Jaya Adapa was on the same flight as me!
It was Jaya's birthday, and we had a mini-birthday celebration and chatted through what our COP27 schedules. We arrived at our hotel around 3:30 AM and were ready to hit the sheets.
Having woken up towards the latter half of the day, I was grateful to have a light schedule. The only thing on my agenda today was to visit the Goals House Nightcap. Jaya and I met up a little earlier with another YouTube creator, Mostafa Attia. His content touches on global obstacles facing people with disabilities. We all had dinner and headed to the Goals House. It was a lovely evening of networking and meeting a few more of the Google team.
Jaya, Mostafa and I met at our hotel reception just before 9 AM today and headed to the Blue Zone for our official registration. The Blue Zone was dedicated to country and organisation delegates, while the Green Zone was for civil society.
We got our badges and headed our separate ways to attend sessions we were interested in visiting.
I spent most of today at the health pavilion hosted by the World Health Organisation and participated in numerous sessions. The health pavilion unveiled a unique lung sculpture by British artist Victoria Pratt which symbolises the impact of climate change on human health. The work of art dedicated to Ella Robert, a 9-year-old British girl, highlighted the contribution of air pollution to her death. Her mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, continues to advocate for health and clean air quality.
The purpose of conversations at this Pavilion is to have health and equity placed at the centre of climate negotiations; to provide evidence, initiatives, and solutions to maximise the health benefits of tackling climate change across regions, sectors, and communities.
Here are a few of the sessions I attended and personally learned a lot from:
- The missing link: Understanding the intersection of climate and health
- Communicating effectively on Climate change and health
I had the pleasure of meeting Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki, President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, who is doing great work looking after women's and children's health and empowerment in Nigeria and Africa. I also explored the Africa Pavillion.
After my sessions, I met with folks for dinner, including Alex Okosi, Managing Director of Emerging Markets at YouTube and creator Tayo Aina. Tayo is a photographer and filmmaker that uses storytelling to showcase a different perspective of Africa. We all had dinner at the hotel and headed to the Goals House NightCap.
I had my first panel today called "Sustainable Fashion: The psychology of desire," a riveting and great conversation. My contribution to the conversation as a YouTube creator revolved around my responsibility for overconsumption and how we can leverage the power of our influence and platforms to encourage our audience to consume less. We touched on the neural circuits in our brains that make products appear desirable, the advertising strategy brands tap into to trigger these neural circuits, and our responsibilities as creators regarding influencing our audience's purchasing behaviours.
After the panel, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for an intimate dinner gathering with a few members of Goalkeepers — an initiative that supports the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
I then headed to my next panel - The Africa Union (AU) / Google Africa Dinner Dialogue. I listened to the commissioner of the African Union discuss the climate change and resilient development strategy and action plan. This panel highlighted the need for diverse voices in these conversations around topics that affect the world. I spoke about the power of utilising YouTube as a platform to inform the world about the effects of climate change on the continent, which is relevant for individual local action and international support.
I headed back to the Blue Zone to attend a session at the WHO Health Pavillion. I listened to thought leaders in the industry discuss "Urgent action to strengthen climate change education for all health professionals."
YouTube Creators Mark Vins and Louis Cole shared their highlight was learning about coral restoration, a Google-Project called " Calling In The Coral." Another event in the Blue Zone. As underwater enthusiasts, they also enjoyed some time snorkeling.
Drumroll to the most exciting panel of COP27: The YouTube panel! All YouTube creators proceeded to the Green Zone. It was my first time at the Green Zone, and it was truly impressive. I appreciated all the artwork on display derived from recycled materials.
Our session was on "Next Generation for Climate Influence" at 7 PM. The YouTube panel included; Mark Vins, Tayo Aino, Mostafa Attia, Louis Cole and myself, hosted by the notable Mr. Alex Okosi. It was great to see so many people in attendance!
We had a light schedule today. YouTube creators met to chat, exchange photos, and videos, and collaborate. We met by the beach at our hotel, the first time I had the opportunity to dip my feet in the Red Sea.
As evening approached, we headed to the Green Zone to explore it properly. We headed back to the hotel for some dinner and chatted until Jaya and Tayo headed to the airport around 1 AM.
Attending COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, allowed me to engage more on the climate change topic (especially the impacts on our health). I learned a lot and feel motivated to bring these conversations to my platform. My goal is to hopefully educate my audience and inspire them to take action their way.
I'm looking forward to seeing YouTube's presence and impact at #COP28, and the ways we creators will continue to break down barriers to the conversations around climate change.