Beyond COP21/ Symposium
COP21, the 21st Congress of the Parties for the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, concluded with cheers, hugs and a general sense of euphoria. It was agreed by 195 nations to attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit the global average temperature to a rise “well below” 2C (3.6F) compared to pre-industrial levels – a level of warming deemed to be the point when dangerous climate change could threaten life on Earth. Peter Milne explores a vital avenue towards sustaining the momentum of COP21.
Climate change – the mobilisation of youth
Climate change action is a complex issue in itself, further complicated by the many different perspectives from stakeholders prioritizing different values or agendas. It is crucial that our planet’s future stewards – the youth – embrace this complexity and own climate and sustainable development issues.
If a resolution of such a complex, often referred to as a ‘wicked’, issue requires changes in the way people behave, these changes cannot readily be imposed on people. Behaviours will be conducive to change if issues are widely understood, discussed and owned by the people whose behaviour is being targeted for change.
The mobilization of the youth and school communities, giving them a chance to make their voices heard and deliver powerful messages, is an essential way to maintain momentum, clarity, understanding and action for the SDGs (Sustainable development goals) and the climate agenda.
The Beyond COP 21 Symposium series, created and facilitated by Peter Milne, Founder/Director of Target4Green, kick started in January 2016 in Dubai, and is aimed at engaging hundreds of school communities to inspire students (10-18) & teachers in and around the Beyond COP21 & SDGs agenda.
Supported by 350.org and Eco-Schools Global, each one day Symposium is hosted by a role model eco school, which then invites 5 to 10 other schools in the area to participate.
The event consists of themed high impact presentations & debates, with guest speakers on the “Agenda 2030” and “Climate Negotiations in and beyond Paris”, individual & community action, pledge making and practical activities/workshops. Local sustainable companies are invited to showcase their initiatives and engage with students throughout the day.
The second Symposium, which is taking place at Walhampton School, UK, on June 16th, has attracted a lot of interest from the local business and educational community. Included in those confirmed are West Solent Solar Farm Co-op, New Forest National Park Authority, New Forest District Council, Hampshire and IOW Wildlife Trust, Eco-Schools England, Roots and Shoots and Global Action Plan, as well as a number of small local businesses.
Feedback from the first event in January was very positive and showed just how school and business communities can work in partnership towards the SDGs.
Rukhsana Kausar, Partner, Liquid of Life, commented, “It was a great opportunity to engage with the children who were very inquisitive and keen to learn about what they can do to lessen the negative impact we have on the environment. We felt that the children found the whole event both fun and informative and we would be happy to participate again in future events with Target4Green“.
Several eminent environmentalists and speakers including Director General of EWS-WWF, Ida Tillisch, Marketing Director of Values Added Nicolas Delaunay, and Goumbook’s Tatiana Antonelli Abela also addressed and interacted with students giving insights into environmental awareness initiatives, both locally and globally.
From a student perspective, Maryam Yaseen Khan from GEMS Winchester School Dubai reflected, “This day has really increased my level of curiosity, responsibility and teamwork. We met companies with genius ideas contributing to solutions of global issues.”
A third Symposium will be happening in September in the UAE and interest has come in from schools and organisations in Jordan, China, Qatar, Thailand, Laos, Singapore and Kenya.
There is no doubt that the Beyond COP 21 Symposium will continue to attract a great deal of interest, as the formula perfectly matches the needs of educational communities and business establishments to continue to learn about and act on the SDGs, as well as maintain momentum from Paris, demonstrating how Business AND Education can be real partners for change.
Common sense and moral obligation say that the future lies with the younger generation, but they need our support to share their voices.
To learn more about the Beyond COP 21 Symposium series, whether as a potential host school or sustainable business partner, please contact Peter Milne at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out www.target4green.com
Feature Image: BGREEN-Ahmed-Lootah-from-Enpark-and-Tatiana-Antonelli