In a unique collaboration, Connect4Climate and the University of Warsaw recently co-hosted an international workshop for more than 540 participants on how to strengthen the global climate movement, a key objective of World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. The workshop, held on November 20 in parallel with the United Nations-sponsored climate change talks (COP19), was entitled Be the Movement because it focused on how to get more young people engaged in increasingly robust global efforts to tackle and raise awareness on climate change.
Rachel Kyte, Vice President of the Sustainable Development Network at the World Bank Group, sounded this theme in her keynote address to the workshop attendees, many of whom were youths. Ending poverty and fighting climate change, Kyte said, “are inextricably linked and they are the moral challenge of this generation.” It is younger people who must generate the consensus needed to drive future climate change mitigation actions and policies, Kyte added. “If we’re going to build a movement,” she said, “this is what I’d like you to think about: What are the challenges you’re going to solve in your generation in the next 50 years.”
The Bank Vice President stressed that more than ever, it is crucial for “science to inform policy” and that youths should not forget “the power of one” – how each individual can make a difference in the battle against climate change by changing his or her own behavior patterns and energy use. The workshop was another way of furthering its mission of inspiring individuals, especially youths, to act urgently to reduce the looming dangers brought on by global warming.
Small group brainstorming sessions discussed such topics as effective ways of communicating the facts about climate change, the need to include environmental education in high school curricula, and the importance of demonstrating that economic development is not in conflict with climate change mitigation policies. These sessions provided valuable insights that are being studied to refine Connect4Climate’s program. Discussions that proved particularly useful centered on how to craft the climate action message to reach new audiences, innovate campaign strategies, and catalyze the adoption of climate change solutions.
The day-long workshop drew representatives of international organizations, private sector companies, NGOs, universities and media from 50 different countries, including the World Health Organization (WHO), BBC Media Action, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Also attending were prominent personalities in the global climate change movement, including Yvo de Boer, KPMG’s Special Global Advisor on Climate Change and Sustainability, Nick Nuttal of UNEP, and Corrado Clini, Director General of Italy’s Ministry of Environment who impressed the audience with realistic but inspirational remarks. Other featured speakers were Kelly Rigg, Executive Director of Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA), Wael Hmaidan, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN), and Jamie Henn, Communications Director of 350.org.
David Cadman, President of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, challenged young people to mobilize their networks of friends, because, he said, “Time is not on our side” and there is a need to “start reaching out to people that aren’t already engaged in climate change.”
Climate change experts and activists also shared case studies and their experiences through Pecha Kucha presentations, which sparked stimulating Q&A sessions. Youths in the audience included students from Duke, Warsaw, and Yale Universities, the South Korean Youth Coalition, and leading high schools from all over Poland. In a display of their newly kindled enthusiasm for climate change action, representatives of the Polish students read out a pledge of action before the packed auditorium on the campus of the University of Warsaw. Picking up the workshop’s Be The Movement theme, the students pledged to make changes in their individual lives in order to combat climate change’s deleterious effects. They expressed the wish that a similar pledge be taken by students all over the world.