When Kelo Uchendu prepared for this year’s Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB56), it had been three years since his previous application for the German visa was rejected. At the time, he was the only African student selected from a cohort of engineers to attend a career-advancing programme in Dresden. That visa rejection was costly and devastating, but he did not remain idle. He founded a climate justice organisation in his home country of Nigeria to advocate for clean air, began pursuing postgraduate studies and joined the organising team of Mock COP26. He would arrive in Bonn as the policy co-lead of the UNFCCC youth constituency knowing that his hard work has finally paid off.