COP26 Notes: Youth Day

Steve Muzzy

Friday, November 5th was youth day at COP26. I attended the Friday’s for Future Scotland Climate Strike.

Thousands of students marched across the city to George Square to demonstrate and demand climate action from leaders negotiating climate reduction goals a few miles away. It was amazing to witness the energy and passion of these young leaders. As a parent of a 12- and 15-year-old, it strengthened my purpose for doing this work and reminded me of when my first child was born. It was 15 years ago in Sweden, while I was working on a Masters in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability (MSLS). My thesis focused on Campus Sustainability in North America – at that time the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment* and the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) were newborns like my son. Fifteen years on, they are all going strong, with Second Nature and AASHE still doing the important work of supporting the higher education sector in the United States to lead on climate action and advance sustainability.

To bring this full circle, after the march, I was able to meet up with a current MSLS student, Paula Carramaschi Gabriel. Prior to attending the MSLS program, Paula worked for 9 years at the Foundation for Amazon Sustainability helping to protect Indigenous communities while supporting the conservation and biodiversity of the forest. It was great to chat with Paula about our experience living in Sweden and how the program prepares graduates to support the co-creation of a sustainable society.

To close the day I attended the Ministers of Education and Environment panel. The first time education and environment ministers have been invited to COP! It was an interesting discussion with lots of pledges to integrate climate curriculum throughout all primary and secondary levels. 

*The American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment was rebranded and expanded in 2015 to form the signature program Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments, which houses the Carbon Commitment, the Resilience Commitment, and the Climate Commitment.