A review of the EAUC Global Climate 2021

14th July 2021

Following on the success of the first-ever fully virtual EAUC global conference conducted in 2020, we were delighted to welcome over 280 delegates and speakers from 29 countries worldwide to enjoy a range of inspiring sessions at the Virtual Global Climate 2021 ran in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Running during the UN High-Level Political Forum, the event offered the unique opportunity to bring under the same (virtual) roof Signatories of the SDG Accord and those of the Race to Zero Campaign, as well as International Green Gown Awards champions  from around the world to collaborate and lead on addressing the climate emergency with new research, learning and practical solutions ahead of COP26. It gave delegates the chance to strengthen the collaboration between institutions and develop new networking opportunities.

Similar to last year, students were offered the opportunity to attend for free, a hugely positive step to make sure they are getting a say in their future and the role of education in tackling the climate crisis. Over 90 students from institutions in all corners of the world have taken up this opportunity, with a student saying that “the global conference offered really stimulating and inspiring content”.

The conference chaired by our Chair of the Board, Prof. James Longhurst at UWE Bristol opened with an inspiring keynote by Dr. Susan Gardner, a Mexican-American environmental scientist and Director of UNEP’s Ecosystem Division, who shared views on what it could be collectively done to embed sustainability principles and actions more equally around the world. In this sense, she launched the UNEP’s Sustainable University Framework which EAUC had provided support and expertise for, that seeks to define what it means to be a sustainable institution and lays out a pathway to becoming one.

International Green Gown Awards 2021 winners Prof. Jean-Louis Bantignies at Polytech Monpellier and Prof. mark Ormerod at Keele University as well as Highly Commended Jocelyn P. Luyon at De La Salle University Dasmarinas shared top lessons from their institutions, showcasing how sustainability really can be embedded holistically across the institution as part of the first keynote session. The celebration of these top projects was welcomed by delegates with one saying “Thank you for aligning very practical presenters. Every example was remarkably inspiring.”

The second plenary of the day chaired by Iain Patton, CEO at EAUC, focused on the steps and priority areas that should be undertaken by the further and higher education sector to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Dr. Rajendra Shende of TERRE Policy Centre and former UNEP Director, Anna Kurth from oikos St. Gallen and Prof. John Robinson at University of Toronto shared insights from different perspectives – Global North & South – on how to build back better, fairer and more consciously of the inequalities and access to opportunities around the world.

The range of workshops covered during the rest of the day included the incredibly inspiring International Green Gown Awards 2021 projects, as well as ways in which institutions are working towards reaching net-zero targets, as well as ways in which the implementation and work conducted towards embedding different SDGs makes a real difference in the student and whole institutional experience.

We would like to continue to encourage EAUC members and other institutions from around the world to continue to engage with EAUC-led projects that give this unique opportunity to establish worldwide collaborations through dedicated email networks, events, webinars, etc:
  • Sign up to the Race to Zero Campaign ahead of COP26 here  
  • Become an SDG Accord Signatory here
  • Find out more about the range of opportunities to showcase your institutional achievements through the Green Gown Awards here.

Iain Patton, CEO at EAUC added: "The world has been united to address the Covid 19 pandemic which positions us uniquely to address the climate crisis. EAUC is proud to be connecting our members with global voices rarely heard to share and scale inspiration, research, learning and commitment to this end."

A final request to leave us feedback if you attended; it will help us improve things for next year! We have already received some brilliant comments – including this one: “I am excited to use all of the information I have gathered to help in my master’s studies and is particularly good to see that the sessions are on demand. Thank you EAUC for an insightful day!”

And a reminder: Delegates will have access to the recordings of plenaries and workshops for 30 days on the conference platform, so do make the most of these!

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