Bea Kim & Sasha DiGiulian Talk About the Intersection of Climate Change and Sport with World Leaders at United Nations Headquarters


By: Stacie Sullivan

Earlier this month, POW Alliance members and professional snowboarder, Bea Kim and professional rock climber, Sasha DiGiulian were invited to the United Nations (UN) International Day of Sport for Development and Peace to represent POW and talk about climate action on a global stage. They were joined by prominent figures at the UN, including Fatma Al Nuaimi, the the Communications Executive Director for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy to the State of Qatar and Steph Hirsch, the Community Engagement and Social Impact Manager for Seattle Reign, FC, to discuss how athletes can use their platforms as advocates and share their personal climate journeys.

We caught up with both Bea and Sasha to hear more about their experience at the UN and how we can all find the intersection of climate and sports and take action.

Bea Kim and Sasha DiGiulian at the United Nations in New York City | Photo by Brendan Davis

POW: What was the most rewarding part or biggest takeaways from being a part of the event?

Bea Kim: For me, it was inspiring to see how different people, from different backgrounds, with different agendas were able to come together through sports to discuss a more inclusive future.

Sasha DiGiulian: I am just consistently grateful that as athletes we have a platform. I’m humbled to be surrounded by people who are so accomplished in their fields and to have a seat at the table to share my story.  The more I do this, the more clear it is to me that it’s our responsibility as athletes to really go beyond our sport and to utilize the opportunities we have to use our voice and be listened to.

Opportunities like this one at the UN really do affect positive change and so that’s where I find it’s rewarding. I love going out and climbing, but I also love being able to share my experiences while climbing with other people who may not even know what that sport is. It’s all a part of this same narrative of developing connections in the outdoors and fostering this reason to care about how we treat our planet.

Sasha Digiulian and Bea Kim at the United Nations in New York City

POW: You both do a great job of finding the intersection between climate change and your sport and then taking action. What advice would you give another athlete or anyone who enjoys being outside and wants to take action but might not know where to start?

Sasha: POW has provided me with so many incredible resources to learn and understand the right vernacular to use and the facts to speak to. I also think that storytelling is a really powerful tool. When you’re telling your own story you can’t be wrong because it’s your personal narrative. We all have those personal experiences as athletes and as people who love being outside and so the main denominator is speaking from the heart and your truth.

POW: Bea, I’d love to hear your perspective on why it’s important for young adults to engage in advocacy even if they aren’t of voting age.

Bea: Young people need to engage in climate advocacy because we are the next generation that can make a difference. Whether you are of voting age or not, we all have a voice. Our lives, our kids’ lives, and our grandkids’ lives will be affected by the decisions we are making now. 

I have learned that everybody’s advocacy journey looks different, so whether that be sharing stories and experiences, encouraging everyone around you to vote, or by using your talents to create art or short films to talk about climate change, young adults putting themselves out there is a step towards a more sustainable future. 

Bea Kim at the United Nations in New York City

POW: What role do you think athletes of all kinds can play to help move this needle towards a clean energy future?

Sasha: I think that we can be spokespeople for our planet. We may not be in government positions, but we have voices that are heard and audiences that listen. It can be intimidating to get out there and talk. I’m intimidated every time I’m speaking at an event, but I’ve also found comfort in the fact that I feel confident in what I’ve experienced and the lessons that I’ve directly learned from those experiences. I find just sharing those experiences and having an open discussion about what’s necessary to create longevity for our planet and a more positive future for the next generations is really important.

POW: To wrap things up as what are you most optimistic about both in your work as an advocate and as an athlete?

Bea: I am optimistic to see people speaking out and joining the conversation around climate change. I feel like now more than ever people are engaging in outdoor activities, so hopefully, this motivates more people to protect the air we breathe, the mountains we ski on and the oceans we swim in. 

Bea Kim at the United Nations in New York City | Photo by Brendan Davis

Sasha: Bea is just 17 years old and such an example of why the future is so bright because she’s so well-spoken and such a great advocate. Seeing the next generation holding the torch really matters.

I’m also optimistic about the fact that more athletes and people who love to recreate outdoors are using their platforms and voices to be a part of the change that we want to see. In my opinion it’s nerve wracking to be political, but I’ve never seen climate action as a political thing. It’s such a necessary aspect to the future for every citizen living on this planet that it feels very bipartisan.

Watch Bea and Sasha’s full panel discussion below!

Stacie Sullivan

Author: Stacie Sullivan

Stacie always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the ski industry from a young age, having first clicked into skis at the age of 4 and writing her 8th grade career project on being a professional skier. While her dreams of becoming a professional athlete didn’t quite pan out the way she planned at […]