ICN was delighted to hold its National Summit 2018 in Portcullis House, Westminster. The Summit was the culmination of our 3-year ‘Climate Voices I’ project. The Programme provided opportunities for 13 – 19 year olds to broaden their critical knowledge of climate change and develop their voices on climate issues through work and debate with decision-makers.
The day provided interaction with high-profile speakers, an opportunity for students from 9m schools across England and Wales to display and explain the action they had been taking, and the chance to win awards.
The project’s major funder, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, was represented by Maureen Grant who gave a message of support for the young people’s action in their schools, and great advice to enjoy the day! See this fantastic Young European News article for a full picture of the Summit.
Two former Secretaries of State, The Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey MP and The Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, backed the Summit. In his speech, Sir Ed Davey emphasised the critical need to work together on pollution when no single country ‘owns’ the problem, and to think about the opportunities for jobs and tackling poverty that new technologies can provide. Dame Caroline Spelman was thrilled to see that the Sustainable Development Goals are providing a solid base for action (she was involved in the Earth Summit that set them in motion). For her, change is about ‘what gets through to people’s heads’.
Top tip: Consider the ‘big levers’ that help change, and consider the power of writing to those decision-makers.
Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, gave an inside perspective on the pressure that inquiries across Government can bring to bear. Their inquiries are as varied as the impact of Court closures on transportation, our soil and soil erosion (‘stop treating soil like dirt!’) through to single-use plastics in Parliament and bans on micro-beads. Mary Creagh said the Committee is, ‘trying to break into the mindset of tomorrow’ whilst ensuring topics can be easily understood.
Top tip: Always think about tangibility – ‘How would I explain this to my mum?’
Kirsty Schneeberger MBE inspired everyone to think about their choices, and believes that this critical generation has great opportunity to really make the difference. It is 10 years since the Climate Change Act was introduced in UK, and it has been a key factor in building momentum around the world. She believes that hope is at the heart of climate change, and it can also become a personal mission.
Top tips: When making choices, think about five ‘Ps’
- Purpose – what you can contribute
- Passion – what really gets you agitated?
- People – who has the same values, thinks about the same issues, provides a challenge? –
- Power – where do your skills and strengths lie?
- Pressure – how to withstand pressure to conform
Climate Action Fair
Six schools set up stalls and talked passionately about their initiatives. They wowed students, teachers and guests alike. See here for details of the schools’ Climate Action.
Students decided by peer review the school that had shown ‘Student Leadership’ and the school that was ‘Inspiring Others’. Three judges decided on the school that had made the greatest Carbon Emissions Reduction.
Top Tip: Present to your school Board of Governors, Headteacher and Senior Staff (if you haven’t already) – they are certain to be inspired too.
Students could attend six workshops:
- Fashion and Sustainability: Important to educate so we waste less and use materials more sustainably, including for school uniforms.
- How Games can save the planet: Experience of playing eco-games can really help to get the messages across.
- Carbon Neutral Tea: What does ‘Carbon Neutral’ mean for a business or a product, and it’s important to keep messages clear.
- Turning the Tide on Plastic: Find alternatives to plastic in our day to day lives, and don’t be afraid to start again with new solutions.
- Our Energy Future: Choose energy-saving equipment based on how long it will last rather than how cheap it is. Ask Government to commit that all new schools be built to BREEAM excellence standards.
- Cutting carbon while keeping the lights on: Think about solar panel installation in schools, and schools as a key part of their communities.
Top Tip: Sharing your school’s work to cut its carbon emissions can inspire the whole community to follow.
Three rapporteurs from Dr Challoner’s High School talked about what had inspired them during the day. Lord Tyler, ICN’s Honorary President, reflected that the Summit really had been about listening to ‘Climate Voices’. Hope for our fragile environment lies within actions such as these, and he encouraged everyone to tell others about the day.
Each contributor brought a different perspective to the debate. Our students certainly increased their learning and motivation, and really enjoyed the whole experience.
Our students were inspired by your guest speakers and the students from the other schools, as were we as teachers.
It was really great to hear all the politicians taking the time to talk with young people.
The pupils were so excited to win a prize. They were very proud of all the work they had done and also surprised that the adults were so keen to hear about it.
Badminton School, Bristol
Builth Wells High School, Powys
Chosen Hill School, Gloucester
Grace Academy, Solihull
Gumley House School, Hounslow
Hammersmith Academy, Hammersmith
Kew House School, Brentford
Little Heath School, Reading
Pittville School, Cheltenham
Dr Challoner’s High School, Buckinghamshire
2) Speakers and Guests
Lord Paul Tyler, Honorary President, ICN
The Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey, MP
The Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP
Mary Creagh MP, Chair of Environmental Audit Committee
Maureen Grant, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
Kirsty Schneeberger MBE
Chris Beales, Chair of Reading Climate Change Partnership
Sarah Lardner, Sustainability Engagement Officer, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
3) Workshop leaders
Nick Sprague, Cobell Foods
Tamara Inkster-Draper (Trustee), Cambridge Institute for Sustainability
Dr Paula Owen, Eco Action Games
Charlotte Turner, Eco-Age
Mark Stead, Mark Stead Eco Education
Mark Kenber, Mongoose Energy
Vivian Frost, Natural Capital Partners