Clydebank, Events

COP26: Scotland and Chile celebrate unique collaboration

During the UN’s COP26 climate change summit, hosted in Glasgow throughout November, we helped to run an event which celebrated a unique collaboration between primary and secondary school children from Clydebank, and partner schools in Chile.

We were by joined the Scottish Government’s Minister for Green Skills, the Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater, and other policy makers, local authority officers, teachers and researchers. Held at the University of Glasgow, the event aimed to showcase and amplify children’s hopes and concerns on local environmental issues.

Organised in partnership with our friends at the Network for Social and Educational Equity (NSEE) – young people, teachers and researchers from partner schools in Chile tuned in live via video link as well.

It was the culmination of months of partnership working. Teachers, preservice teachers, researchers and pupils had worked in their classes with their counterparts from abroad through virtual and in-person workshops, tackling a range of issues related to climate change. Teachers had also developed different lessons about each of the countries involved.

Calls for representation during COP26

Despite being most affected by the ongoing climate crisis, young people’s perspectives are mostly underrepresented in the policymaking space.

This has prompted widespread calls for research that engages with pupil’s climate concerns throughout the world, while empowering young people and helping them to build capacity around the responses to climate change.

In Scotland, this is especially relevant, as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was recently passed into law, requiring new mechanisms to amplify the voices of young people.

As COP25 was relocated away from Chile in 2019, and with COP26 hosted in Glasgow, the project gave a chance for students in both countries to meaningfully participate in international climate discussions.

Amplifying children’s voices

The session contributed to an eclectic schedule of COP26 events at the University of Glasgow, and ensured that concerns children and young people have in relation to climate change were voiced and amplified during the course of the UN summit.

Pupils from St Eunan’s Primary and St Peter the Apostle Secondary, and pupils from Colegio Luis Cruiz Martinez in Chile, presented their experiences to the audience in person and through videos, before a panel discussion took place with questions from the young people.

An audience sit in a lecture theatre looking at a screen showing a conference call to school pupils in Chile during COP26 climate summit
The session was part of a busy schedule of exciting COP26 events at the University of Glasgow

The panel consisted of Lorna Slater MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Laura Mason, West Dunbartonshire Council’s Chief Education Officer, Romina and Ben Murphy from the University of Glasgow, and Professor Carlos Duque from Colegio Luis Cruz Martinez School and the Catholic University in Valparaiso in Chile.

Ben from Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland said: “It was fantastic to see the excitement and enthusiasm of the young people involved. We were all inspired to hear them talk with such passion, insight and confidence, in front of a daunting audience. Bringing together young people from Clydebank and Chile has built long-lasting connections that will enable young people to bring in global understandings to all their learning.”

Rachel Cowper from Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland, added: “It is our job to ensure that children and young people can express their voice and agency, and in a time when climate is the key issue, supporting children to grow in confidence to raise these matters, debate solutions and put actions into place – is key… The event showcased just that, and on an international footing.  It was inspiring, and the children spoke with passion and clarity, so with actions already underway there will undoubtedly be more to follow.”

The event ended with the panel members adding one sentence that summed up what they wanted the young people to take from the day. These included messages about learning, hope, working together, resilience, collaboration and vows to listen.

For a full update on the success of this fantastic event, and for links to further content about this project, please see this post on the NSEE website.

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