Personal Reflections of COP26 as a DLO – Gary Johnstone

Captains Regent delivering San Marino’s National Statement

Many months ago I expressed an interest in being involved in supporting COP26. Partly driven by my background as a teacher of geography and modern studies, I have maintained an interest in the environment and geopolitics. But my motivation was of course more fundamental; there are few of us that can’t have been moved and therefore called to action recently as we have witnessed the awful impact of global warming on people and our planet. Added to that, I hoped that COP26 would be a real success and game changer. As a proud Glaswegian, Scot and Brit, I hoped that we would be remembered positively by the thousands who attended. I was very fortunate to be offered the role of Delegation Liaison Officer (DLO) working with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Each DLO was there to prepare for the arrival of world leaders and their delegations. I was assigned the San Marino delegation and it was a pleasure to work with the country’s leaders and ministers. San Marino, for those who might not know, is a small enclave within Italy. It is the oldest republic in the world, dating back to around 300 AD. My life as a DLO was made more interesting as this little nation is unique – it is the only country in the world with two Heads of State (Captains Regent) – a fact that very few people are aware of – and this meant that in any meetings or photo opportunities I had to ensure that this was realised and respected. The Captains Regent (sounds much better in the Italian – Capitani Reggenti) could never be separated and never one treated more important than the other. Whilst San Marino is the oldest country in the world, it has the youngest Head of State (joint), Captain Regent Giacomo Simoncini who at a mere 27 makes other world leaders like Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau look like old men! Captain Regent Francesco Mussoni makes up the other half of the joint Heads of State for the Republic.

Captains Regent Preparing for Glasgow Declaration Family Photo

For a number of weeks prior to the World Leaders’ Summit I was involved in ensuring the logistics of travel, border control, airport greeting, Covid testing, accommodation and security was tailored appropriately for the delegation. The two days of the summit were frenetic. I had the privilege of access to all areas including the VVIP lounge where World Leaders spent their down time. As a DLO I had to facilitate bi-lateral meetings and brush-byes with presidents, prime ministers and ministers all within a time-restricted yet fluid situation. This also meant guiding leaders to the correct location at precise times throughout the two days. A huge moment was the delivery of the National Statement when each country was given three minutes to tell the world about their commitment to change. As they say in the musical Hamilton, I can honestly now say “I was in the room where it happened.”

San Marino was one of the 40 original countries to sign up to the Glasgow Leaders’ declaration on forest and land use. This demonstrates a commitment to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. It is so pleasing to think our city’s name will be associated with this huge initiative.

The role of DLO was challenging in a number of ways for us. Can you imagine the power of persuasion required to convince over 100 World Leaders that it was a good idea to go from the SEC (blue zone) to Kelvingrove Art Gallery for the evening reception by way of an electric bus? Or how to tactfully choreograph the timing and order of such an unusual experience – each of us with the tickets to allow our leaders on the bus!

Captain Regent Francesco Mussoni , President Joe Biden, Captain Regent Giacomo Simoncini and Minister Luca Bercalli relaxing at Kelvinhall

It was for me a real honour to be involved in such an historic event. Who would have thought that an opportunity would present itself allowing one to literally rub shoulders with cardinals, presidents and prime ministers. Fighting with the world’s press was a regular white-knuckle ride and I am afraid at one point I came off the worse for wear under the scrum of photographers chasing down President Macron. The job was physically exhausting (my commute started at 5.47 am in Bishopton station each day and lasted well into the night), exhilarating and rewarding. To my colleagues I would reflect that many of the skills we develop as HMI stood me in good stead for this role. Resilience, diplomacy, managing expectations, receiving huge amounts of information and presenting it accurately and simply, keeping calm and responding positively – they are all in our tool bag. A younger me might be tempted to pursue a career with the FCDO!

In finishing, Her Majesty The Queen urged world leaders to earn a place in history by answering the call of future generations. I hope COP26 galvanises our leaders, yes – but more than just our leaders – businesses and civic society too including our own organisation to re-double our efforts to make COP26 the defining moment it needs to be.

 

 

 

Educate on Climate day, New York Times Climate Hub, 5th November

Mark Irwin reflects on his visit to Educate on Climate day at COP26.

Every Saturday growing up, I would visit my grandparents in their flat in Govan.  I would peer out of their kitchen window, looking across the graving docks and the Clyde to the gothic tower of Glasgow University high on the hill, and ask questions about all that I could see.  Today I look back towards their flat from the train window as I head to the New York Times Climate Hub.  The tented expanse of the COP 26 Blue Zone covers the riverbank from the SEC to the Riverside Museum.  The graving docks are lit up with letters 7m high and 70m long. The text “No New Worlds” faces the leaders and delegates across the river, a reminder to all of the climate  emergency we face.

 

I pass through the layers of security at the Climate Hub and stand in the foyer to get my bearings.  Instantly I bump into people I’ve been working with these last few months online and it really is a fantastic feeling to finally meet in person.  I listen to a panel discussion from the World Health Organisation on the impact of climate change on health and mortality around the world.  It is a stark message, and one that needs to be heard more.  I bump into more teachers and we head for a table to talk about what we have heard, and what we can do to move Learning for Sustainability forward post COP 26.  Words that feature often are empathy, humanity, empowerment alongside the need to make deeper connections across Scotland and the world.  I listen and reflect on how important it is to listen to those on the frontline, and hope that the delegates in the Blue Zone are doing the same.

 

It’s a Friday.  It’s the world’s biggest summit on climate change. So of course there is a Fridays for the Future climate march, the global movement started by Greta Thunberg.  It has grown from Greta sitting solo in strike outside the Swedish parliament in 2018 to over 14 million strikers worldwide in 7,500 cities. The Glasgow march leaves from Kelvingrove Park, only 10 minutes from the Hub.  I head over to meet some young people and to chat to them and their parents about the March.  About 30,000 protesters head off towards George Square to hear young climate activists from around the world.  I head back to the Hub feeling exhilarated by these conversations.

 

I’m back in time to grab a coffee and head in to the Forum for a session on Future Proofing pupils for the Changing world of work.  It’s a lively and fascinating panel, including Chris van de Kuyl of Minecraft fame, and AI researcher Professor Rose Luckin of UCL.  However it is a comment from Professor Dave Reay of Edinburgh University that really strikes a chord with me.  It’s not about making our young people “Future Ready”, its actually supporting them to be “Now Ready”.

 

Professor Reay’s comment solidified a feeling I’ve had since COP 26 began.  We use the word future all the time when we talk about climate change and its impacts. But does the use of this word give decision makers a get-out to put off the actions urgently needed now?  Hearing from people from across the globe, and in particular young people who are already living with the effects of climate change, it’s clear that delivery of actions needs to happen now.  If it is left to the future, then it is too late.

 

 

COP 26 blog – A step out into a new world

STEM Education Officer Mairi Thomson reflects on her visit to COP 26 and its legacy.

Leaving for the launch of the New York Times Climate Hub I was struck by the poignancy of the moment: this would be the first time I had been on a train since the pandemic began. Like many, my ‘working from home’ life had quickly adjusted to the daily commute to the back room. It had been easy, all too easy, to avoid the city these last 18 months, managing to strike a balance of working, dog walking and family but the forgotten jacket on the train quickly transported me to the present reminding me this was different!

 

The city was strangely quiet. I had expected to see scenes of activism just like the ones that had filled my television in the days before. I don’t think people had wearied – just that the carefully curated road closures had led me a different path. The hum of helicopters, the chatter of languages, the green lanyards and the camera bags told me I had reached the Climate Hub.

Through security and COVID checks, inside was an oasis of calm. A reverence for nature greeted me through the living art installation by ES Devlin.  197 trees and plants temporarily installed to represent the 197 countries who ratified the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.  The art cleverly nudged me to breathe in the importance of this COP and to pause and reflect on not only the enormity of the crisis facing humanity but also the urgency.

Each of the evening’s contributors offered up something unique from their perspective.  The New York Times editor in chief spoke of journalists seeking truth to tell the most urgent climate change stories of our time, how they use drones to go places people can’t and how using local photographers shows both intimacy and fear. Describing Greenland’s ice sheet as Swiss cheese reminded me (in case I had forgotten) that climate change is devastatingly real.  Nicola Sturgeon reflected on the significance of COP being hosted in Glasgow, a city at the forefront of the industrial age, how the science shows us we are running out of time, how we need to reduce emissions and reach net zero but without leaving people and communities behind. Beattie Wolfe performed her song from Green to Red as we were treated to a visual representation of 800000 years of carbon emission using data from NASA.

By all measures the night was a success but what measures are our leaders, our activists or indeed am I using to determine whether this COP has been successful?  Big announcements are one thing but important action happens at a local level.  Dave Reay, expert in Carbon Management. says that the most powerful thing anyone can do in terms of taking climate action is to talk about it. Talk with family, talk with community, talk with peers. Yes! This is something I can do (and those of you who know me know I love to talk!).  So with this in mind I am stepping out into the soon to be new and post-COP world and I am filled with hope and possibility about what we can achieve together.

The Environment : Questions for Learning

 

Education Scotland has just published a new book entitled

The Environment: Questions for Learning

The book has been 10 years in the making and has been very kindly shared with Education Scotland by Scottish-born author, Karen Currie, who has been living in Brazil for 40 years. The book contains lots of questions and ideas to help make Interdisciplinary Learning connections in learning through Learning for Sustainability.

Karen approached Education Scotland because she has been keeping a watchful eye on the Curriculum for Excellence’s journey from afar and has a longstanding interest in Learning for Sustainability and Scotland’s curriculum.

Please remember to encourage anyone who reads the book to share one idea back…

Help us celebrate Scotland’s contribution to Learning for Sustainability.

 

 

Here is a fantastic opportunity to showcase and celebrate Scotland’s contribution to Learning for Sustainability with an international audience.

Learning for Sustainability Scotland (LfSS) is Scotland’s Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) in ESD (Education for Sustainable Development). This is a centre for everyone and anyone involved in ESD-related activity across all educational sectors in Scotland and you can read more about them here.

They are also part of a global network of over 180 similar Centres, recognised by the UN University and in November 2021, they will be hosting the 12th Global RCE Conference. The Conference will be held online from the 16-18th November and all 180 Centres and their networks have been invited to attend.

Be part of the celebrations!

LfSS are delighted that such a prestigious event is coming to Scotland. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase and celebrate some of the fantastic learning that is happening across Scotland to make sustainability part of the everyday for learners of all ages and backgrounds. LfSS would be very grateful, therefore, if you would consider sharing your LfS story as part of this. You have until 1st November to send your contribution to them.

There are two ways you can share your activity:

  1. As a ‘Postcard’:
  • This would consist of a short video clip (5 minutes or less), outlining your activity. Ideally, it would include footage of your work and the people involved in it, and either a voiceover and/or text outlining your activity, its aims and its outcomes/impact. Accompanying music would be especially welcome! LfSS will be selecting two of the postcards submitted to them for showcasing during the Conference itself and all postcards will be uploaded to their online ‘Sharing Space’ for delegates to view at their leisure.
  1. As a contribution for their online ‘Sharing Space’:
  • LfSS will be building an online platform for sharing good practice from across Scotland and from their RCE colleagues worldwide. You can send them content in any format you choose: e.g. video, PDF, graphic/photograph, or as a link to content on your own website.

Please contact the organisers at enquiries@lfsscotland.org if you’d like any additional information. Closing date 1st November.

Countdown to COP26 – One Month to go

The United Nations COP26 Climate Summit starts on 01 Nov 2021. That means there is just over one month to go to one of the biggest events ever hosted in Scotland. The aim for the 200 world leaders in attendance will be to reach agreement on tackling the global climate emergency by limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Education Scotland has been working closely with key partner organisations to provide support and resources to help education settings and learners engage in the five key climate education themes of the COP26 Conference: nature, clean transport, energy transition, finance, adaptation and resilience.

Resources and support can be accessed via the Countdown to COP page on Education Scotland’s National Improvement Hub. https://education.gov.scot/improvement/learning-resources/countdown-to-cop26/

This includes access to the following elements:

  • A COP26 Wakelet collection – bringing together some of the best COP26 resources from partners around the world
  • Early Years – See Dug’s Discovery Den ThingLink resource and eBook of Dug’s visit to Arran
  • Primary – A ThingLink resource for learners covering all five COP26 themes and accompanied by a practical guide for teachers
  • BGE Secondary – Countdown to COP resource for learners in S1 to S3.
  • New! – We’ve also now added COP26 challenges to encourage learners to develop creative and innovative solutions to climate change.

You can also join our Countdown to COP Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Live sessions being run by Education Scotland in partnership with Founders for Schools and e-Sgoil. These live and recorded sessions provide an insight into a wide variety of green jobs linked to COP themes: https://www.e-sgoil.com/countdown-to-cop26/ . Live sessions are running Fridays at 11:00am through to the start of COP26.

Scotland’s Assemblies – these live and recorded assemblies are a great way to introduce learners at First and Second Level to COP themes: https://e-sgoil.com/p2-7/ . Join us for our next COP assembly at 09:45am on Friday 1 October.

Learning for Sustainability Practitioner Network – connect, network and share ideas with over 300 other like-minded practitioners on MS Teams in Glow. Joining code: o4sj08j

Twitter – Follow us @EdScotLfS and visit our LfS blog for the latest updates

Don’t forget! The work doesn’t stop at the end of COP! Education Scotland is asking every school and setting to build a lasting legacy for the COP26 conference by ensuring that all learners in Scotland receive their entitlement to Learning for Sustainability, an entitlement that is embedded within Scotland’s curriculum. Find out about the wide range of resources and professional learning support available through the following pages:

SScotCHEM CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGE: Scientists, Schools & Sustainability

Chemistry Week (1-12 November) is an annual celebration of the chemical sciences. This year, to coincide with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1-12 November 2021, Chemistry Week will last for the full 12 days of the Conference.

The ScotCHEM CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGE: Scientists, Schools & Sustainability will align with the activities of COP26 and Chemistry Week 2021 – with a theme of sustainability.

ScotCHEM represents chemistry research in Scotland – across universities
and connecting with industry, government and, most importantly, education.

ScotCHEM invite entries for a challenge to prepare public engagement material aimed at primary school pupils in Scotland.  Centred around the issue of sustainability and climate change, this material should promote the role of chemistry in driving solutions to climate change as well as promote chemistry as a science and as a career for primary school aged children.

The outcome of the challenge is to provide a sound scientific basis to better understand climate change and advances towards sustainability, for primary school pupils.

Creating a link to COP26 will provide opportunities for engagement with this major event being hosted in Scotland.

The project will also provide on-going curriculum-linked resources that can be used well beyond the duration of the challenge itself, thereby creating a longer-lasting legacy and extending the reach of the activity.

Through the national remit of ScotCHEM and by working closely with Education Scotland, we hope to increase the number of chemists actively participating in meaningful school engagement across Scotland.

The challenge is open to researchers within ScotCHEM member departments, at any career level (PhD to Professor).

The following topics/questions have been identified as being of particular interest and relevance to primary school pupils regarding climate change.

• What is climate change – busting the myths?
• What am I, as a researcher, doing to tackle climate change?
• What can you, as a young person, do to help tackle climate change?

Submissions should be either a short (3-5 minute) video or short PowerPoint presentation that answers one or more of these questions, keeping the overall theme of sustainability in mind.

Submissions should also align with the Scottish curriculum.

Winning entries will be showcased throughout Scotland, via Education Scotland and ScotCHEM channels, to primary schools and to the public during Chemistry Week 2021.

The winners will also receive a £1000 prize (one per theme) which can be used for the following:
• Further public engagement activities related to chemistry and climate change
• Developing new research under the theme of sustainability
• Improving the sustainability of their research

In addition, any engagement resources judged to be excellent by our panel will be brought together to create a resource for Scottish schools to access when talking about sustainability and climate change. These resources will be made available through Education Scotland’s online platform as well as ScotCHEM’s YouTube channel.

The challenge is open to all postgraduate researchers and staff within ScotCHEM member departments, at any career stage.

Deadline for Challenge submissions 5pm Friday 15th October 2021.
Review of challenge entries by schools 21st – 28th October
Challenge winners announced 29th October
Showcasing of winners during Chemistry
Week 2021 1st – 12th November

Entry forms should be submitted by email to scotchem@st-andrews.ac.uk
Entries must be received by 1700 Friday 15th October.
Enquiries to Dr Alan Wiles (Director of Operations ScotCHEM)
scotchem@st-andrews.ac.uk

COP26 Drop in session LfS Practitioner network in Glow

Join us for the COP26 Drop in session in the LfS Practitioner network in Glow on 9th September.

Participants need to be members of the LfS Practitioner network to take part.

The link for the session is posted below  (Glow log in needed).

The session begins at 5 pm.

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Learn more | Meeting options

Communities Stories Fund – Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022

The Communities Stories Fund has opened for applications, as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 (YS22).

The fund is directed at providing an opportunity for communities across Scotland to put on events that tell the stories that are unique or important to them.

With £300,000 available for awards of between £500 and £5,000, the fund will provide an opportunity for new, creative events, activities and programming. Applicants are invited to respond to any of the five, cross cutting Year of Stories 2022 programme strands:

  1. Iconic Stories & Storytellers
  2. New Stories
  3. Scotland’s People and Places
  4. Local Tales and Legends
  5. Inspired by Nature.

The deadline for applications for this round of funding is 1st October 2021. A further round of funding will open on 24 January 2022.

Full details of the criteria and how to apply can be found here: https://www.museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk/funding/year-of-stories-2022-community-stories-fund/

Applications must be made through the Museums Galleries Scotland website, and applicants must first register online to create an account before making an application. If applicants have any questions in relation to their application they should get in touch with the MGS team by contacting grants@museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk