Global Climate Conference - Day 5: Wild times and nature-based solutions

23rd November 2020

It was the final day of the conference today, and what a week it has been! We have been amazed and inspired by the range of plenaries and workshops from across the globe that we have been privileged to facilitate.

Over the course of the week, we have seen over 1000 attendees from 18 countries (including 746 students) enjoy 11 plenaries, 60 workshops and 3 roundtables from 171 speakers and presenters, with the support of 28 sponsors and exhibitors, all for one reason – to come together and share knowledge on how to tackle the climate crisis.

We have to thank delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors alike for making this conference the success it has been, but a special thanks goes to Professor James (Jim) Longhurst, EAUC board member and Assistant Vice Chancellor at the University of the West of England (UWE) for chairing the conference. We had our fair share of technical difficulties, but Jim has navigated it all with professionalism and good humour. 

Jim said of the conference: “I have really enjoyed chairing Global Climate 2020. The plenaries and workshops have provided stimulating discussion, novel insights and many practical actions to address the climate and ecological emergencies. A highlight for me has been the international nature of the speakers and delegates and the excellent conference platform allowed for virtual but very effective networking with delegates, speakers and sponsors. I look forward to the 2021 conference.”

Today had two plenaries to offer, and a variety of different workshops, topped off by a final roundtable.

The first plenary saw Mac Macartney, international speaker, writer and change-maker talk about ‘The Eye of the Storm - living and contributing in wild times’. Mac gave an insightful talk about the future, using anecdotes and information from the indigenous people that have mentored and tutored him, to frame the world in a different way. Mac reflected on the concept of ‘what do you live for and what do you live by?’ and encouraged delegates to do the same. Mac highlighted passivity as the greatest danger to our world, and warned of the risk of ordinary people doing nothing about impending crises – asking what it will take for people to realise that their contribution, no matter how small they deem it to be, is hugely important. 

Workshops followed on from the plenary, covering topics including using sulitest as a way to build a sustainable future together, offsetting principles, and a nature-based solutions living lab.  

The plenary that followed - the final of the week - was all about nature-based solutions. We had brilliant speakers, with Sarah Mukherjee, CEO at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) chairing the session. Sarah spoke about the unexpected outcomes of the pandemic, in which people started to fall back in love with nature, and started to realise how important nature is to our health and wellbeing. But warned the pandemic also highlighted inequalities when it comes to accessing green spaces. 

Following on from Sarah, Chantal van Ham, Programme Manager on Nature Based Solutions at International Union for the Conservation of Nature, gave a presentation about how important it is that nature-based solutions form a key part of recovery plans from the current pandemic. Chantal also talked about how education settings at all levels have a responsibility to educate young people on nature-based solutions and restore the curiosity, wonder and love of nature that we have lost over time. Chantal outlined a global standard for nature-based solutions that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature runs, to bring clarity and credibility to these solutions. 

Gillian Burke, Natural History Television Programme Producer and Presenter followed on from this, with a very fresh approach. Gillian said one of her most used analogies is if nature is the head of an axe, language is the handle that helps us cut through the noise. Gillian went on to explain the importance of communication when it comes to nature and nature-based solutions, how it must be engaging so that nature-based solutions become embodied and people change the way they see and value the world. We need both the knowledge of solutions and the ability to meaningfully disseminate them to be successful in tackling the climate crisis. 

Rob Stoneman, Rewilding Area Co-ordinator at Rewilding Europe finished up the session with an in-depth look at rewilding and why it is important, providing many brilliant and successful examples of rewilding projects for delegates.

More workshops followed, covering topics such as sustainable futures through online learning, restoring the wild and greening the research funding system. The final day finished up with an incredibly topical leadership roundtable: The role of student leaders in a Climate Crisis. Those attending discussed how decolonisation and decarbonisation of the curriculum should go hand in hand and that both of these key actions should be communicated in a way that one won't exclude the other.

The final thing left to do when closing the conference was to announce the winners of the conference game we had been running all week. Delegates were tasked with finding codes to win points in their sessions and at exhibitors stands. We would like to congratulate the winner Catherine Morris (1st), and runners up Tertia Mason (2nd), Laura Porter and Lorna Powell (joint 3rd). We hope you enjoy our prizes!

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 would just like to say how much I have enjoyed attending the conference - every session I have attended has been super interesting! I'm excited to use all of the information I have gathered to help in my master’s studies. Great that the sessions are on demand, and the competition is a great addition to the platform - trying to keep up and find as many codes as I can! Thank you EAUC for a great week!”

And a reminder: Delegates will have access to the recordings of plenaries for 30 days on the conference platform, so do make the most of these!
Global Climate Conference - Day 5: Wild times and nature-based solutions image #1