Amy Thompson is Head of Policy Programmes and Communications at the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR), and one of the producers of ActNowFilm - a youth voices film project from the IPR and Cambridge Zero, as part of the COP26 Universities Network, and supported by the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC).
We spoke to Amy about her experience producing the film, and bringing youth voices to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).
Addressing climate change
I am lucky enough to live in a place surrounded by nature, and each day I witness countless birds ferry to and from their feeders. It’s a scene I am so lucky to witness, and one I am increasingly conscious of as it may prove a real rarity for future generations.
Rapid loss of biodiversity, in a world being ravaged and destroyed because of manmade climate change, is not something any of us should accept. Addressing climate change is something I believe we all have a responsibility to do.
Joining the COP26 Universities Network
About a year ago, I joined the COP26 Universities Network and volunteered as Co-Chair of Climate Exp0 - the official pre-COP academic conference held in May this year. It was an amazing experience, working with an incredible team of more than 80 international colleagues.
In planning the conference, we knew we wanted to focus on three audiences – academics, policymakers and students. But we didn’t know how students would like to be involved, nor did we want to make assumptions, or be seen as guilty of ‘youth washing’.
So we ran a survey, and received an overwhelming response from over 700 UK students expressing an interest in contributing to the conference.
We wanted to find real and impactful ways for these youth voices to be heard, and that involving young people was essential. We achieved this at Climate Exp0 through various strands – such as student-led sessions - but we wanted to do more.
Amplifying youth voices
In collaborating with Katie Parker from The Centre for Climate Repair at the University of Cambridge, affiliated with Cambridge Zero; the Cabinet Office; and the COP26 Universities Network, we sought to build on the momentum of Climate Exp0, and amplify these youth voices on the road to COP.
We knew we wanted to create an accessible opportunity for young people from across the world to have their voices heard in meaningful and genuine ways, and to bring those voices to the negotiators and world leaders. The opportunity had to be open to all – as everyone’s voice matters – and we needed a simple way for people to take part.
Together we designed the ActNowFilm project, where young people - aged 16-30 - were asked to submit a video of them talking about - or showing how - climate change was impacting them. We asked them to share their direct experiences of climate change, what they were doing about it, what pledges they wanted to make, and what messages they wanted to deliver to COP.