Liu Organizes “Congress and the Sustainable Development Goals”

My Opening Remarks:

Thank you, Paula, for such a warm introduction.

Good afternoon everyone, on behalf of the Sustainable Development Committee and the rest of the UNA-NCA chapter, I would like to personally welcome all of you to the United States Capitol, to discuss such an important issue, the Sustainable Development Goals, with Congressman Don Beyer and Mr. George Ingram from the Brookings Institution.

My name is Thomas Liu and I am a rising senior at Langley High School located in McLean, Virginia; a proud member of the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee and above all, the event lead for today’s program.

Before I start, I will like to thank my parents, York Liu and Jennifer Huang for encouraging and guiding me to become the person I am today.  To my dad and all the dad’s here today, Happy Taiwanese Father’s Day!

I’d also like to thank a individuals, for if I did not know them, I would not have the courage and ability to organize this event.

I would like to thank Mr. Edward Elmendorf, the former president of UNA-NCA and UNA-USA for his support over the past year. I met Mr. Elmendorf at the 2016 UNA-USA Leadership Summit where he led the Global Goals Roundtables discussion on Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Mr. Elmendorf then went on to secure my status as a member of UNA-NCA, since it is rare for high school students to join the organization. He also recommended me to join the Sustainable Development Committee, which is chaired by Mr. Patrick Realiza, who actively leads and facilitates in the development and creation of programs and initiatives on behalf of the committee. By following Mr. Elmendorf’s insight, I had the opportunity to learn more about the SDGs and become an advocate of the SDGs.

As a quick reminder to those present in the room, we are currently live on national television, thanks to the C-SPAN team for their efforts for broadcasting today’s discussion throughout America. We are also streaming through Nexus Media Live to help engage our online audience. Please be sure to follow us @UNANCA and @UNANCASustDev throughout the afternoon on Twitter. After the panel, we will be taking questions from our audience members in the room, and also from those online through Nexus’s Facebook Live Stream and through Twitter. Hashtags for today’s event are #Goal13, #ClimateAction, and #CongressandSDGs.

On this afternoon, we are gathered here to talk about Goal 13 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Action. According to the United Nations, “Climate change presents the single biggest threat to development, and its widespread, unprecedented effects disproportionately burden the poorest and the most vulnerable.” In April 2016, under the US’s leadership, member states of the United Nations signed the historic Paris Climate Agreement, an agreement that set the stage for an ambitious climate action agenda. However, things have since changed.

Due to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement on June 1st, it is imperative for our American leaders, leaders such as Congressman Don Beyer, to reaffirm the leadership role that the United States needs to play on the international stage and especially on climate change.

Congressman Beyer isn’t only my role model; he is America’s strongest member of Congress in the fight against global climate change. I first met the Congressman as a volunteer for his campaign three years ago, where he encouraged me to be engaged in both policy and politics. I then went on to serve as a campaign intern during his reelection campaign.

Before being elected to represent Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District in 2014, Congressman Beyer served as a two-term Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the President of the Virginia’s Senate, and the Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein under President Obama.

Before inviting Congressman Beyer up to deliver his speech, let me briefly say that after the Congressman’s speech, we will be followed by a conversation between Congressman Beyer and Mr. George Ingram. Mr. Ingram serves as chair emeritus of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and is also a Senior Fellow for Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution.

We are pleased to have Congressman Beyer here today to be the first member of Congress to speak about the US’s role in implementing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Congressman Beyer will also provide a lawmaker’s perspective on the need for strong US leadership in the United Nations and specifically Goal 13 of the SDGs, Climate Action.

With that, it is my great honor and privilege to welcome the Vice Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, a long time champion of UNA-NCA, and my mentor, Congressman Don Beyer.