Talk Recap: Planet Youth with Sophie Westlake, David Chapman and Serena Bashal

Updated: Feb 13

By Raphael Dimitriou, Warwick European Society Talk Officer

On the 27th of January, the Warwick European Society hosted an event dedicated to climate change and how the youth could be included in this effort to tackle it. We welcomed three COP26 delegates each one representing their organisation, Ms. Sophie Westlake – Deputy Director of the Department for Education, Ms. Serena Bashal – Young Activist and representative of UKYCC and Mr. David Chapman - Sustainability Champion at the University of Warwick. In the discussion the three speakers along with the audience discussed issues related to the role of the youth in tackling climate change, the space of collaboration between activist groups and governments in both the UK and the EU to overcome this common obstacle as well as, how significant is the educational element of climate change and how this will enable people to adopt a common stance on the issue.

Event Banner. By the European Society talk officer Natalia Tronina


All the three speakers agreed that the youth have a significant role to play in the efforts to tackle climate change and policymaking in general while they should be involved in the negotiations and discussions associated with global issues that affect them directly.

Ms. Westlake mentioned some of the government’s and the Department of Education’s recent achievements such as the participation in the Education and Environment Ministers summit and the provision of the National Education Nature Park and Climate Leaders Award. Moreover, she emphasised on the new strategy that the government and the Department for Education are employing to educate young people about the importance of climate change and strengthen their actions. The strategy focuses on the excellence of education and skills for a changing world, net zero, resilient climate change and the better environment for future generations. These require change of the curriculum in all years of study accompanied with a structured plan for incentivising the green skills and studies.

Mr. Chapman stressed the role of the University in aligning with the UN SDG guidelines but also how to emphasise on sustainability of its operations. He mentioned the three scopes of the University that aim to tackle food waste, as well as the excessive energy and water usage, while providing some statistics about the abovementioned. The University is also trying to embed modules related to sustainability to every and each year of study and courses in order to enhance green upskilling. He also highlighted the efforts of the University in providing sustainable transport for students by providing electric scooter and bicycles and the partnerships that the University has with some societies and social groups in completing common projects.

E-scooters placed outside of the WBS building. Image from warwicksciencepark

Ms. Bashal highlighted some successes of the youth organisations in COP26. Some of them are associated to the recognition and inclusion of non-party stakeholders such as the youth in contributing to progress

towards the objective of the Convention and the goals of the

Paris Agreement. Moreover, COP26 agreement urges parties and stakeholders to ensure meaningful youth participation and representation in multilateral, national and local decision-making processes, including under the Convention and the Paris Agreement while it invites future Presidencies of the Conference of the Parties, with the support of the secretariat, to facilitate the organization of an annual youth-led climate forum for dialogue between Parties and youth in collaboration with the UNFCCC children and youth constituency and other youth organizations with a view to contributing to the implementation of the Glasgow work programme on Action for Climate Empowerment.

The COP26 event banner. Image from ukcop26,

In the end the audience had the opportunity to engage with a Q&A session with the speakers and answer some questions that were not addressed during the talk.

As, Warwick European Society we are glad to see that the youth is considered as one of the stakeholders in tackling the climate change issue while all other stakeholders have projects and plans in place to combine all these efforts together.

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