YES Programs



Representing Tunisia at COP28

Idriss standing in between a COP28 UAE flag and a UN flag

By: Idriss Guerziz (YES 2021-2022, Tunisia, placed by CIEE in Indianapolis, IN)

My life’s mantra is to enhance quality of life for as many people as possible while minimizing harm for the less fortunate. This mantra acts as my guiding philosophy. To achieve this, I have realized the importance of being interdisciplinary. I aim to immerse myself in a new social project every six months to engage with different groups and gain knowledge of their challenges.

Idriss in a red shirt holding a Tunisian flag

One highlight was being one of the youngest members of Tunisia’s delegation to COP28 in Dubai at just 20 years old. COP28 was the annual UN Climate Conference held in December 2023. After months of academic research on the local consequences of climate change in rural Tunisia and nearly five years volunteering with the Tunisian Red Crescent, I was thrilled to achieve this milestone. I have worked on a participatory research project with UNICEF to examine the impact of climate change on water usage and availability in the agricultural sector in the Nabeul region of Tunisia. This work led to my nomination as a delegate by UNICEF Tunisia.

At COP28, my efforts focused primarily on agricultural negotiations. I also provided legal and technical support for Tunisia’s head negotiator. I was responsible for preparing the relevant texts and documents for the negotiations.

My experience as a COP28 delegate paved the way for my advocacy efforts around education reform. I participated in the inaugural ministerial level meeting for the Transform Education Africa initiative at the African Union, where I championed inclusive efforts to address climate change. Over the next six months, I will also be working on a capacity building program with the Syasset Institute focused on political science and international law, as well as a program for young leaders on climate change.

My exchange year was a transformative experience that taught me how to engage in activism by writing articles, motivating others, and embracing the participatory elements of democracy. These lessons cemented my interest in political activism in geopolitics.