Earth is currently home to the largest generation of youth in history.
The choices we make today on climate will define the quality of life this generation will experience and leave a footprint on many more generations to come.
Universities are uniquely placed to help prepare this generation and the next to respond effectively to climate change and set the world along a more sustainable path.
The International Universities Climate Alliance represents more than two million students and staff across countries from every continent.
During Earth Day on April 22nd 2022, over 500 youth delegates came together and talked with climate changemakers from across the world to explore what more can and should be done by universities to reduce emissions, protect our vulnerable communities and regenerate fragile natural ecosystems.
Our universities can and should:
- Revisit how they are incorporating climate literacy into educational curriculums.
- Support students to have more meaningful representation in decision making at all levels of community and university forums.
- Support public awareness campaigns to encourage investment in protecting our most vulnerable communities against climate impacts.
- Incorporate the arts and innovation into the climate conversation to help inspire and empower students and how they translate climate education to the community.
- Expand the role of campuses in raising awareness and fostering a love of nature.
This statement is an invitation to our university community to start a conversation and share their ideas on how we might reimagine our role as community leaders on climate, to inspire the next generation toward a more vibrant, sustainable future.
Below is a collection of excerpts from our Youth Leaders and global changemaker community that helped shaped our Earth Day Student Statement:
“Education is crucial to promote climate action. It helps individuals comprehend and address the effects of the environment emergency, engaging them with the information, abilities, values, and perspectives expected to go about as influencers.” Student’s Organising for Sustainability (SOS)
“Universities are uniquely placed to equip people to make sustainable decisions at the start of their careers. Graduates move into nearly every sector so ensuring sustainability is embedded in their minds regardless of their job role will make the transition to a sustainable future and climate informed workplace, more achievable” Gary Carney, The Sustainability Academy
“Universities have the most important role in advancing knowledge, understanding and solutions to climate change. And must develop an action plan to ensure that sustainability and climate literacy are embedded across all school curricula while recognising students as partners in co-delivering this mission.” Kelo Uchendu, Student Representative
“Public awareness is important to increase enthusiasm and support, stimulate self-mobilization and action, and mobilise local knowledge and resources. Raising political awareness is important as policy makers and politicians are key actors in the policy process of adaptation. Awareness raising requires strategies of effective communication to reach the desired outcome. Large climate change awareness raising campaigns are often a mixture of mitigation, energy efficiency, and sustainability measures rather than adaptation measures. Climate Finance is required for alleviation, since large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions. Climate finance is similarly significant for variation, as critical monetary assets are expected to adjust to the unfavorable impacts and decrease the effects of an evolving environment.” Lance Scott and Leneka Rhoden, University of West Indies
“The climate crisis affects everything. Universities should, therefore, not ask who can be included in the conversation, but how each field can be included in meaningful ways. The arts, an undoubtedly powerful vehicle, whose power includes communication and reimagining our world, ought not to be left behind in this fight.” Climate Students Movement
“University campuses should play a role in raising awareness and fostering a love of nature as no one will ever cherish or protect what they don’t understand or care for. And no one will care about something they have not experienced” Aymeric Maudous, Lord of the Trees
“To create an objective consciousness about critical problems that humanity is facing right now. It will be the first step to reduce them and hopefully, someday, solve them. The new generations will face these problems in a more dramatic way, they should be prepared for these challenges.” Eng. Luis Fernando Reséndez Maqueda POM, Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Sonora Norte“Students need a way to be exposed to different disciplines relevant to Climate Change and the environment so they can employ system thinking, can think from different perspectives.” extract from IBM Student Workshop
A special thank you to everyone who contributed to the planning of the Climate Alliance’s Earth Day program
- Anga Mbeyiya is a Sustainable Blue Economy Masters researcher and entrepreneur. She holds a range of qualifications in marketing, project management and sustainable development. She finds joy in making ideas come to life. She is able to always see the potential in others and will use influence to push those around her towards a common goal and vision. After completing her thesis in the potential impact of seaweed and obtaining her qualification with distinction in Sweden. It opened her mind in creating Ole Blu and she hopes it will help shape the Blue Economy in Africa. She believes that all things are possible through prayer, consistency and determination. Anga believes that building strong and deep relationships with people in the numerous industries is key to long term success. She believes national and international collaborations are vital in economic growth and development.
- Dahl Winters is pursuing a Ph.D in Systems Engineering at Colorado State University, exploring interests in carbon removal and storage through the development of cementitious composites. She volunteers her time to lead the Cyan initiative at the OpenAir Collective, a community advancing negative emissions technologies, carbon dioxide removal, and direct air carbon capture (DACC) systems. Dahl is also the CEO of TerraNexum through which she engages in carbon removal R&D, geospatial analytics work, and open innovation. Dahl’s main area of R&D focus is bio composite development, whether for high carbon density materials for carbon removal and storage, or for biotech applications.
- Hermia Chan is a final-year Global Studies student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Being born and raised in Hong Kong, Hermia noticed the absence of climate change education in Hong Kong secondary and tertiary curriculum. She therefore co-founded the Network of Environmental Student Societies (NESS) early 2021, with an aim to provide a one-stop platform for awareness raising, capacity building, connection development and driving policy changes with a focus in the interdisciplinary nature of climate change and all things environmental. Our work revolves around 3 pillars – communication, partnership and events, and policy advocacy. In November 2021, Hermia attended COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK with the support of CarbonCare InnoLab. She also has experience volunteering with various youth platforms, such as SDSN Youth, GYCN, and ThinkOcean Hong Kong.
- Kelo Uchendu is a Clinton Global Initiative Fellow, the founder of Gray2Green Movement and Co-founder of Zentrum a social impact startup that recently won the global Rockefeller Foundation and Acumen Academy Social Innovation Challenge. Kelo is passionate about building a just, equitable and sustainable system. For the past 4 years his leadership strategy in transformative activism is rooted in environmental conservation particularly climate justice and air-quality advocacy, youth engagement, grassroot mobilizing and capacity building, as well as governance and polices. Away from campus life Kelo has helped his community build more climate resilience through his activities at Gray2Green Movement. Kelo is a member of the Global Coordination Team (GCT) YOUNGO the official youth constituency of UNFCCC. In 2019 He was selected as one of the top 50 promising engineering student globally to attend EuroBrake 2019 in Dresden, Germany by the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Society (FISITA).
- Lance Scott is a Research and Policy Specialist with a focus on Climate Change, Rural livelihoods, and Climate Risk Insurance. Lance holds a BSc. in Geography and Geology and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI). Lance has worked on several projects, including being a Trainer and Assistant Project Manager on projects commissioned by the National Environment Planning Agency (NEPA) through the UWI. He specializes in research design, data collection, data management, data analysis, and monitoring and evaluation. Lance’s research focuses on Weather Index Insurance, and he has represented Jamaica at the International Dialogue on “Creating a Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance Evidence Roadmap” organized by Munich Climate Insurance Initiative based in Germany, where he contributed to the Working Paper which went on to advising key government officials and other stakeholders such as policymakers, international development agencies, and agribusiness owners.
- Leneka Rhoden is a Natural Scientist and Project Management Professional with over 5 years of experience in the fields of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Education/Training. Equipped with skills in Climate Strategic Management, Communications, Research, Process Design, and Optimization, Leneka functions as a Development Project Manager, Grant Writing Trainer, Science Educator, and Business Development Consultant. She is currently the Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network at the Commonwealth Secretariat where she is responsible for overseeing the management of the Network including supporting the 54 national chapters in developing and executing their initiatives. As a result, Leneka holds extensive experience in strengthening global advocacy campaigns, and convening capacity-building training for youth as climate leaders, in research, policy, and management. Nationally, Leneka has been awarded the Governor General’s Award for Excellence and the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Community Service.
- Phoebe Hanson is passionate about creating an informed, kind future generation that can tackle the climate crisis. Building knowledge, skills and power in young people, platforming their voices, and influencing the public policy that affects them to shape a resilient world. Phoebe co-coordinated Mock COP26, a conference uniting youth from 140+ countries to share opinions, innovative ideas, and lived experiences surrounding the climate crisis. A Board Trustee of youth movement-building charity Raleigh International and supporting the UK Department for Education to convene a joint event of education and environment ministers at COP26 to advance climate teaching and learning.
- Tomo Kudrich is currently undertaking doctoral studies at UNSW Sydney. Her thesis considers the impact of participatory budgeting on tax compliance. Tomo’s research also aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 16 which calls on signatories to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels to develop accountable and transparent institutions. She holds a Bachelor of Taxation and a Master of International Taxation from UNSW Sydney, and a Diploma of Law from Legal Profession Admission Board/University of Sydney LEC. Tomo practises as a solicitor in NSW specialising in tax and commercial litigation, prior to that, as a chartered accountant, holding roles at various organisations such as Australian Government Solicitor, Nine Entertainment Co. Group and Deloitte.
- Isabelle Zhu-Maguire is a Master of International Relations student from Monash University in Melbourne. She is the team lead at Monash Association of Sustainability (MAS) and founded the Sustainable Universities Network (SUN). In 2021, Izzy also became the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solution Network (SDSN) AusNZPac Youth Coordinator and is passionate about collaborating with other students to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Open Air Collective is a distributed, entirely volunteer-led network that aims to creatively capitalize on these opportunities to advance, accelerate and co-invent carbon dioxide removal (CDR) in the real world through collaborative advocacy, and research & development missions. The unfolding emergency of our warming planet is transpiring in a world that is being relentlessly reshaped by heightened, internet-enabled connectivity. This trend continues to radically reduce barriers to interaction between individuals and groups at the margins, decentralizing influence, authority and productivity in unprecedented ways. The intersection of these two historic developments – crowd and climate – has produced new opportunities for collaborative action, creativity and production that can be brought to bear on big challenges in ways that were not possible before.
- Foundations for Tomorrow is a non-partisan organisation driven by tenacious young Australians with the mission of protecting Australia’s future interests. We are committed to being proactive and constructive participants in the design of a prosperous future for all Australians. We operate as a Strategy Hub, operating in the nexus of think tanks, policy advocacy and incubators. We bring fresh eyes to intergenerational inequities and creative solutions to Australia’s most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges. By bringing ambitious, yet pragmatic and evidence-based perspectives to these critical conversations, we intend to meaningfully contribute to future-proofing Australia.
- At IBM, we believe in uniting experts and technology to tackle environmental issues at scale. That’s why we’re supporting the Internal Universities Climate Alliance’s Earth Day Climate Talks Student Forum with a human-centred design workshop. Throughout the experience, IBM experts will guide activities using Design Thinking methodologies to ensure our student’s voices are being heard in relation to some of the world’s most pressing climate challenges. The captured statements will be consolidated and presented to the Climate Alliance university leadership ahead of the World Academic Summit in New York during October 2022.
- Lord of the Trees, founded by Aymeric Maudous, is a global reforestation company that combines precision drone technology with the knowledge of environmental experts, scientists, engineers, and indigenous communities to replant seeds and grow new ecosystems in deforested areas worldwide. LOTT combines a multi-faceted High-Tech (fully autonomous programmed drones, robotics, AI, and nature-based solutions) and LoTEK (Local Traditional Ecological Knowledge) approach to restore entire ecosystems to their original state. Lord of the Trees offers a revolution in reforestation, planting on a vast scale that is faster, cheaper and more efficient than ever before.
- SOS-UK is an education charity created by the student movement in 2019 in response to the climate emergency and ecological crisis. We’re proud to be members of SOS-International, joining student-led and student-focused organisations around the world to form a coordinated effort aiming to amplify the voices of students and influence global systemic change for sustainability.
- Sustainability Academy, brings climate literacy to the workplace. Businesses are uniquely placed to be able to change their activities to have a positive impact on the planet as well as achieving commercial success. However, with problems as big as climate change or poverty, it can be difficult to know how one person can make a change. The Sustainability Academy shows workplaces how to make that change.
- The Climate Students Movement was officially founded in August 2020 by students from the forerunner Climate Students Sweden, as well as by students starting up Climate Students groups in Kenya, Singapore, and the UK. Currently, we are working to mobilise, organise and strengthen student groups, networks and organisations in their work to push higher education institutions to become brave climate leaders in our societies. Our role is to ensure that they act on the best available climate science, and that they adapt to it in order to follow the 1.5 degree target of the Paris Agreement while taking climate equity into account. At the moment, we have expanded to include members from Brazil, Nigeria, Colombia, Finland, Malta, the Netherlands, and Tanzania. We’re currently expanding and hope to reach out to more students worldwide to advocate for more change within the universities, with a few potential future members from Austria, Estonia, India, Kyrgyzstan, and Uganda.
Climate Alliance Secretariat
Administered by UNSW Sydney
International Universities Climate Alliance
The International Universities Climate Alliance brings together 56 world-class climate research universities, united in their dedication to help communities capacity build and accelerate climate transition at a global scale.