Volunteering at COP26 by Fiona Shaw (Development Officer, Improving Gender Balance and Equalities)

It was a dark, dreary lockdown day in January 2021 when I first saw the opportunity to be part of one of the most significant and exciting events the City of Glasgow has seen – COP 26 Climate Summit.

Ten months on and I have completed two of my volunteering shifts at COP26. After originally applying to be part of the Active Transport team I was disappointed to find out there wasn’t a place available. However all was not lost as, a few weeks after finding this out, I was invited to be part of the Media team….an ambiguous yet very intriguing position! Turns out it would involve hosting the conference’s Destination Media Hub in the centre of the city and meeting and greeting members of the press.

The Hub itself is a celebration of all the sustainable practice Glasgow has to offer in terms of culture, business and social initiatives. Dotted around the room were plenty of products and initiatives that celebrate Scottish innovation and its approach to a circular economy: Jaw Brew beers (who used old bakers rolls to make their pioneering beer: Hardtack and Roller), a plant pot company Potr who take fishing rope waste and turn it into self-watering plant pots, ACS clothing who are the largest clothing rental and renewal service provider in Europe and Kabloom who produce biodegradable ‘guerilla gardening grenades’ plus many more! All of this accompanied by the dulcet tones of Glasgow musicians playing in the background on the ‘Glasgow makes music’ playlist.


On my shifts so far I have welcomed members of the press, offered them a comfy seat, a place to take calls and a hot drink and escorted them to meet dignitaries from the conference. I have also met like-minded volunteers and we have worked together to highlight good news stories from across the city to be passed on to members of the press. I was really keen to celebrate the work of schools and communities in these stories so I made sure lots of these were sent their way!

Volunteering is always enjoyable and a lovely way to gain new skills and give back to the community, but volunteering at COP26 is certainly special, memorable, and I feel grateful to have been part of it.  But like many of us, I am hoping the world leaders do reach an historic agreement that actually tackles the climate emergency.

As a final thought, I wanted to share a link to a video from the LfS MOOC course that really struck a chord with me this week and really made me think: The High Price of Materialism https://youtu.be/oGab38pKscw.



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