Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Costa and Issy will be participating in Glasgow COP26!
Costa in Year 12 has gained a place through UKSSN (UK Schools Sustainability Network) on a student team attending the conference COP26 conference in Glasgow. This is an amazing achievement and opportunity for Costa and Frensham Heights as only around 20 students across the UK have been offered places to attend the conference. Costa has been closely involved with our growing Eco Heights group and in the Surrey Environmental Actions School group.
Issy C in Year 13 has gained a place as part of the wider UKSSN group of 35 sixth formers remotely supporting those students in Glasgow. Issy has really been enjoying the workshops leading up to the event. She’s learnt about importance of green spaces, sustainable finance, climate anxiety in young people and energy storage, for example the logistics of hydrogen powered cars. The workshops have allowed Issy to connect with like-minded young people from schools around the country involved in wider UKSSN group. She’s been particularly surprised and interested in the sustainable finance topics and it’s made Issy think about her own choices and those of her family and friends. She’s now keen to share her knowledge with our Eco Heights group and her fellow sixth formers.
We caught up with Costa to find out how he feels about this great opportunity to attend COP26:
1. When/How did you first become interested in environmental issues?
My interest in environmental issues is rooted in my enjoyment of nature, foraging, and sea fishing. From a young age, I started to become aware of the threats they faced, which led me to advocate for the protection of nature, and the more systemic solutions to human-caused climate change.
2. Can you tell me about the Eco Heights group? - Its aims and the work it's been undertaking in school?
Eco Heights was set up in the spring term of 2019, and we have been working hard to make the connections in school to work on reducing our impact on the environment. In conjunction with this, we are and have worked on projects to help connect students to nature on the school campus. Last academic year, we helped to work on a project to introduce students to growing food, through dedicated eco days. This term our focuses are on working with the school catering company to reduce the amount of animal-based protein served in the school meal, introduce a new recycling system and a new bird box project. 10 bird boxes will be constructed by the Eco Heights team, and then assembled, painted, and installed by the Junior school students, who will then monitor them in the nesting season. Eco Heights is always looking for new members to join – and we have an exciting year ahead.
3. What are SEAS and UKSSN? How has your involvement in these groups alongside Eco Heights enriched your understanding of the Climate Crisis and the possible solutions?
SEAS is the Surrey Environmental Actions School group, which consists of 5 other local schools which are keen on bringing positive environmental actions to the forefront of their schools. Students from these schools meet twice a term to network and support creative ways to address issues of sustainability and the climate and ecological crises. SEAS is leading a movement for real, student-led, ecological change. The UKSSN is the UK Schools Sustainability Network – it collates all the regional networks (such as SEAS) with regular meetings. Its primary aim is to promote responsibility towards the environment within schools and their wider communities through campaigns, events, publications, and activism. Working as part of both of these groups has been very insightful as we can learn from what other schools are doing, and also support our ideas and experiences within the group. (contact: Philip Leamon at firstname.lastname@example.org)
4. What will you be doing in Glasgow COP26 with UKSSN?
My specific role in Glasgow at the COP26 event is going to become clearer over the coming week. I have had meetings with the other students going, as well as preliminary pieces of training organised by the UKSSN. I will be representing Frensham and the wider local community too – by asking questions and passing on the views and feelings of our community at the event. I will also be bringing back my experience and learnings which I will be communicating to Frensham, and the SEAS group.
5. Which part of the COP experience are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forwards to meeting students, educators, and those working in the industry who have a shared passion for environmental thinking. I believe it will be a very transformational experience and it is going to be amazing to network, learn and represent Frensham Heights School and the SEAS network at such an event.
6. You have a platform to persuade young people to be more environmentally friendly - what message would you like to share to encourage others to think about and act on climate crisis?
I feel many young people become anxious when thinking about the climate crisis and seeing the effects of ecological breakdown in other parts of the world. Re-connecting with nature, be it at a local woodland, park, or even a walk along a hedgerow is very calming. Feeling in balance with the environment around you is the best way to put yourself into a mindset from which you can think about being more environmentally friendly. Everyone can contribute to changing how society impacts the environment; activism, art, music, science, cooking, raising awareness and making practical changes to the way they live. By playing your part – however significant, you make a real difference. Small steps create an active hope, which is essential to maintaining the energy behind the ever-growing environmental movement.