Who is Nathan Méténier, the young environmentalist who advises the UN Secretary-General?

Environmental activist 22, Nathan Metenier, a year and a half young climate advisor, is responsible for advocacy for the Youth and Environment Europe network. He is being held with the leaders of major corporations and heads of state from around the world to put the weight of youth in environmental policy. A long-term work that he carries out by following his master from London, but which he started very early in his native Isère, his eyes were on Mont Blanc.

Nathan Méténier, 22, is a young UN climate adviser to Secretary General Antonio Guterres and an advocate in the network of environmental associations Youth and Environment Europe (YEE). This first position brings him into contact with heads of state, political decision-makers, bosses of large companies and, according to him, leads to ‘real dialogues’. Contrary to what one might think. “We’ve really helped states, governments to get young people to work and integrate”in the decision-making process, Nathan Méténier says on the phone from London.

Activist and young climate adviser at the UN

In addition to his mandate as young climate advisor, which expires at the end of summer 2022, Nathan Méténier continues to support these ecological European youth so that they can find their place.

In September 2021, he co-chaired the COP for young people in Milan. An event that brought together nearly 400 young people from all over the world in the Lombard capital. On all fronts, he attended the COP26 in Glasgow two months later. “A big disappointment”he judges. There, big companies and governments have not listened to young people. Consensus does not keep temperatures below 1.5°C predicted by the Paris Agreements.

To take stock, the UN climate adviser is relinquishing his first role to take on the second: responsible for advocacy. He would like to see young environmental associations “regarded as large corporations”. So he puts pressure on associations from some 30 countries around the world to convince politicians, to teach young people interdisciplinary skills. He struggles to get seats around tables and financing, the big fight of money.

A craftsman who speaks to the greats. Sometimes in vain. “It’s a huge frustration when you see some people thinking about how they’re going to sleep in space”, he said. He considers himself lucky that he can always do that “criticizing my country without the police coming to my house”. Other environmentalists are more discreet.

Up to certain levels of reflection, he trusts, business leaders and decision-makers remain alert to the changes that need to be made. Others adorn themselves with illusory actions. “There are companies ranked in the best CSR policy in the world, even if their economic model is not ecological at all”.

Wouldn’t it be worth playing it radically against this premature blah blah? we ask. “You can be radical or be more diplomatic when it comes to mobilizing and taking action. I see it as an ecosystem. I don’t see any opposition, we should all be moving in the same direction.”

“If you can’t develop philosophy, you can’t live”

Nathan Méténier grew up near the mountains. “I have always spent time in nature”. He soon became involved in associations around watching the peaks crumble, the Mer de Glace of Mont-Blanc disappear. “A click”. After the baccalaureate, he left to study in the banks of Sciences-Po Grenoble and then at the London School of Economics, where he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental policy and the regulation of international relations.

The quiet times in the English capital are different from those spent in the original Isère. The bike rides take place on the asphalt of the Megalopolis far from the mountain roads. Nathan Méténier explores where he lives and takes time to slow down despite his busy schedule. “I live with [ce travail]. I’m connected, with WhatsApp, social networks, etc. If you can’t develop a philosophy, you can’t live.”, the activist launches. He often wonders “how his privileged position” can help the cause. A way to look in the mirror? “I am very tall in front of most mirrors”he jokes.

The ecological activist prepares for the end of 2022, a collection of texts “looking back on my journey and deconstructing certain notions”. A painstaking work carried out together with his mother who worked in the publishing house.

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