From the World Student Environmental Summit, Part 1

I’m currently writing from the second annual World Student Environmental Summit, this year at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  Here, 50 student delegates from over 25 universities and 15 countries have gathered to discuss the most pressing environmental issues and how we, as students, can take action both in our universities and beyond.  This year, we are focussing on energy and waste, university sustainability, and global response to climate change.

Each day is really packed to the brim with activity! To welcome us, we heard from Mark Stoibel, a former advertising exec who now runs Change Advertising, which helps start-ups brand themselves as green. The theme of the first day was climate and energy, so we heard from Dr. Andrew Weaver and Guy Dauncey, about climate science and energy solutions, respectively.  All of the speakers were, thankfully, extremely engaging and gave us plenty of fodder for discussion.  Personally, I felt that it was difficult to trust someone from the advertising world about the fact that his new clients really wanted to make “meaningful” changes to their businesses, especially when the word greenwashing was never even mentioned.  As for Dauncey, it was really exciting to hear a whole list of possible heating, transportation, and food solutions, but I definitely have concerns about his lack of attention to the new set of externalities that diving into technologies like solar and geothermal could create.

The delegates then spent the afternoon in discussion.  We broke up into three rooms based on theme: create, conserve, and collaborate.  What great discussions! As one of my fellow delegates brought to my attention, even if the discussions were not always purely on topic, there was a distinct lack of negativity.  No one spent the whole time bemoaning climate change.  The focus on potential solutions was really refreshing!

-Julia Meisel, 2010

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