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By: Albin Wilson 

On September 28- 30, 380 youth from 190 countries gathered in Milan, Italy for the Pre-COP 26, Youth4Climate summit. As one of the two Swedish representatives, I was excited to meet the many global representatives, and understand how my peers were demanding for   governments to act on climate. 

It is reassuring that  systems change is finally being included in the conversation as it relates to climate, even though no concrete actions are being taken. However, the shift in the conversation allows the discussion to move beyond growth or even green growth, and poke at the conventional understanding of how to address the climate crisis. 

So how can we go about changing the system that we’re so deeply wedded to?

In Greta Thunberg’s speech, she said there is too much ‘blah blah blah’ amongst the leaders who can actually make the radical changes needed. I found it unique to this summit that as youth, we don’t have politics to play. Therefore, we didn’t hold back in the honesty of our experiences or calls to action.

In fact, we were encouraged to speak our minds, express our concerns and push hard for the changes that we want to see in the world – all without being withheld by a political agenda. 

However, there was tension amongst the attendees. Some of us have grandiose ideas for the future, while others are focused on what can get done today. Both of course are important – but for some, including myself, it felt the proposals being given may not be achievable in our lifetime.

Which gives me pause because if I feel this way, I can foresee leaders in high positions of power throwing out some of the proposed ideas if they seem too impractical in their eyes. This surfaces another tension – how can youth continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible (as it’s our futures that are most threatened), without pushing the boundaries so far that our proposals are considered impractical? 

I reflected a bit on my key takeaways from the conference which I’ve listed below:

  1. The proposals are still too transitional. We’re making policy proposals that are 10-20 years out. I was struck that we needed to also be thinking in terms of what we can do tomorrow. 
  2. Voices of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Indigenous communities are the most important voices in the room. Hearing the stories from these youth that are most significantly impacted by changes in climate validated the thinking that these perspectives are the most important to listen to. Not only does their entire environment shift, but their way of life shifts as well. We have a responsibility to attend to the needs of these communities, as they are often the ones who have contributed the least to climate degradation.
  3. The policy proposals that we created are not specific enough. We need more concrete actions to act on climate. However, this is the sacrifice that is made when we’re drafting policy  proposals that are inclusive of the entire world. How can we ensure everyone is included, while also ensuring that the policy is radical enough? 
  4. Climate technology must be looked at more seriously. We’re deep in our current system – and the solution cannot be just to stop everything and allow the planet to regenerate. We must use technologies that exist to support the transition. This requires us to lean into the opportunities out there – and the possibilities that technology has to offer.
  5. Financing must dramatically change. From government grants, private equity funds and venture capital firms, the financial bottom line is entirely insufficient. We cannot continue to fund growth as the end, rather than a means to the end. What’s unclear is the shared vision of the end we are aspiring to create. If we can agree, in this circumstance, that we’d like to live on a healthy planet, then the funding needs to begin to move swiftly in that direction. 

Some of the key moments are captured below:

This work is complex. It’s disheartening to listen to the perspectives of youth whose livelihoods are most impacted by our deteriorating climate. And we need to move with urgency for those people. The fact that this event even occurred proves that the narrative is changing. Never before have future generations been considered a key voice in these conversations, and now we’re leading them. This is the beginning of a culture shift which influences behavior and ultimately can change the system. I hope the proposals that we developed are taken into consideration and the leading governments stop the ‘blah blah blah’ and take the drastic changes needed to build better lives for future generations.  

To tune into the conversations from Y4C click here.

WEAll is recruiting for a COP26 Music Event Producer. This 7-month contract offers the opportunity to lead on WEAll’s presence and impact around the COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, and offers a unique opportunity to engage new audiences with the case for economic system change and a wellbeing economy. Primarily this will be done through a multi-arts festival that seeks to be engaging and informative and will be available to digital audiences as well as people in Glasgow.      

Start date: June 2021

Contract type: 7-month fixed-term contract

Remuneration: We expect the role to be the equivalent of a full-time post and the remuneration for delivering the festival is up to £20,000 for the contract period.

Hours of work: The nature of this role is that flexibility in hours is both required by the role (for example, there may be some evening and weekend work) but also offered by WEAll.

Location: Because of where COP will take place this year, our preference is to recruit for a person to be based in Glasgow [Scotland] where we can provide access to a co-working space (COVID rules permitting).

The Music Festival:

WEAll, together with its partner FiiS is planning a one-day music festival during COP26 to be held in Glasgow in November this year. The theme of the event will draw on our narratives playbook Stories for Life (SfL).

We are in advanced talks with the organisers of a central Glasgow site to hold the music festival during the middle weekend of COP26. The site (currently under development) will host a programme for the full 12 days of COP with like-minded content partners.  The WEAll/FiiS music festival will be the key content partner for one of those twelve days.

The site partner aims to develop the site with temporary structures on site including a main stage, smaller stages and workshop areas that are module in design and able to be arranged to meet its content partners’ needs. The site partner will provide the audio/visual needs for the site and plans to broadcast the programme to supplement the likely socially distanced nature of the in-person programme.

WEAll/FiiS are planning a festival that will include musicians, artists, new economy thinkers and practitioners. We plan to hold panel discussions between these different groups, display artwork that draws out the themes of Stories for Life      – themes that highlight the interconnectedness of humans and nature and how the economy must be in service to both.

We are planning to use SfL as a creative challenge and opening it up to all the arts / music / cultural networks we know. The challenge would be to use SfL as a brief, and to create ‘stories’ (in any medium) that pick up on any of the main pillars of the brief. A limited number (say 4 or 5) of the submitted concepts would be commissioned to then be shown at the festival in Glasgow.

We would like to apply the same thinking to bigger agencies / organisations with the aim for them to create their own campaigns / strategies / ideas in response to SfL and then submit them into  a panel – with the awards/results being announced at the festival.

What we are looking for:

We are looking for an organised, flexible and highly motivated individual with demonstrable event design and project management skills and experience, and with a passion for economic system change.

The post holder must be adaptable, creative and – due to the nature of our small start-up organisation – fully capable and competent to lead this work without expectation of supervision. Having said that, the person will need to be an excellent partnership manager as the site developer is looking for the themes and messages of our festival to complement the other content partners (and vice versa).

The post holder must also be adept at talent management, stage management and an excellent project manager.

Download the full job description, which includes more details of deliverables and how to apply, below. The closing date is Tuesday 18 May.

Global Ethical Finance Initiative – Ethical Finance 2020

Monday 5th – Thursday 8th October 2020

Virtual event

The premier event advocating finance for positive change.

Ethical Finance 2020 will take place from 5th to 8th October 2020; a 4-day virtual gathering of banks, investors, asset owners, regulators and development agencies from across the globe to explore the transition to a sustainable financial system where capital drives positive change.

Register for free here.

Topics that will be explored:

  • Policy and Regulation – the role of banking sector in hitting zero carbon targets
  • Climate-related financial risk and climate smart lending
  • SDGs/Principles for Responsible Banking
  • Green/sustainable FinTech
  • ESG integration across asset classes & avoiding “green washing”
  • Bridging the SDG financing gap
  • Asset owner challenge – decarbonising portfolios: The Debate – engage v divest
  • Unravelling the investment opportunities for the circular economy

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Fiona Reynolds, CEO, Principles for Responsible Investment
  • Chris Stark, CEO, UK Committee on Climate Change
  • David Pitt Watson, Consultant Investor & Author
  • Professor John Kay, Author & Economist
  • Hiro Mizuno, Board Member, Tesla & Former CIO, GPIF
  • Keith Skeoch, CEO, Aberdeen Standard Investments
  • Peter Blom, CEO, Triodos Bank
  • Heather McGregor, Executive Dean, Edinburgh Business School
  • Simon Thompson, CEO, Chartered Banker Institute
  • Dame Susan Rice, Chair, Banking Standards Board
  • James Anderson, Partner, Baillie Gifford
  • Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas, CEO, Green Finance Institute

More speakers are listed on ethicalfinance2020.com

This year the summit forms part of our pathtocop26.com campaign that is helping to build momentum towards the COP26 UN Climate Summit taking place in Glasgow in 2021.

Get the full details and register here.