Six students tackle climate change with the UN in Paris

Were you following the landmark UN Climate Change Conference in Paris last month? Six of our Environment students were there, representing UWaterloo and doing their part to create a better world for future generations.

UWaterloo COP21 delegates

The conference, known as COP-21, was a high-level meeting of government officials and climate experts who negotiated legally-binding agreements on climate change reduction. The UWaterloo team included: Dominique SourisSivakumar Kuppuswamy, Alexandra Graham, Bianca Salive, Raul Mehta, Michelle Gordon and Sara Gonowski, as well as professor Ian Rowlands.

 

While acting as UWaterloo's ambassadors in France, the students worked closely with volunteers back on campus, sharing information on Waterloo’s efforts for sustainability and climate change.

Many of the delegates, such as Dominique Souris, had been working on climate action projects for years

My 'climate journey' began in 2013 when I attended the 19th UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland as a member of UWaterloo’s Coalition for Sustainable Development (now Climate Students). Since then, I have worked on climate change issues and youth empowerment strategies, which has taken me to conferences across the globe.

Attending COP-21 was an exhilarating experience, but also required a lot of stamina. As Dominique explains,

The days are very long. Meetings can start as early as 8am and can last until 11pm. Fitting in time to complete school priorities was challenging, but the coffee and croissants helped me through it!

During the two weeks of negotiations, Dominique kept very busy liaising between conference delegates and the university.

I assisted in creating the communications strategy and in coordinating strategic meetings for the delegation. While at COP, my role involved representing UW at a variety of events, high-level meetings and negotiations.

Mature student, Sivakumar Kuppuswamy, played an important role in digital communications.

I was part of all group activities that included communicating on social media, contributing to a blog, attending side events and being part of a Skype chat with the UW Home Team audience.

Originally from India, Siva was proud to see his home city receive a sustainability reward from Sir Richard Branson and act as an ambassador for both Chennai and Waterloo.

I was very surprised to witness Chennai receive the award which was positive for me as the city was just recovering from a flood. I was interviewed by a local FM station in Chennai India and communicated about UWaterloo and about COP-21 which was sublime!

The main outcome of COP-21 was a new framework that will commit all countries to put forward their best efforts through reports, obligations and engagements and limit the global temperature increase to less than two degrees Celsius.

For students interested in international opportunities like the Paris summit, Dominique says not to hold back.

Do it! Any international event, particularly United Nations conferences, are typically filled with captivating people, extraordinary events and learning opportunities. You never know who you will brush shoulders with and what opportunities can arise from that!

To learn how COP-21 agreements affect Canada and the world, attend a panel discussion featuring Waterloo delegates on Monday, February 1.

  1. 2018 (56)
    1. December (1)
    2. November (5)
    3. October (7)
    4. September (4)
    5. August (1)
    6. July (2)
    7. June (5)
    8. May (8)
    9. April (3)
    10. March (7)
    11. February (5)
    12. January (8)
  2. 2017 (62)
    1. December (3)
    2. November (7)
    3. October (7)
    4. September (4)
    5. July (4)
    6. June (7)
    7. May (7)
    8. April (3)
    9. March (8)
    10. February (7)
    11. January (5)
  3. 2016 (73)
    1. December (2)
    2. November (5)
    3. October (6)
    4. September (6)
    5. August (4)
    6. July (6)
    7. June (8)
    8. May (9)
    9. April (6)
    10. March (9)
    11. February (7)
    12. January (5)
  4. 2015 (65)
    1. December (5)
    2. November (6)
    3. October (3)
    4. September (4)
    5. August (4)
    6. July (4)
    7. June (5)
    8. May (6)
    9. April (5)
    10. March (9)
    11. February (7)
    12. January (7)
  5. 2014 (88)
    1. December (3)
    2. November (8)
    3. October (9)
    4. September (8)
    5. August (4)
    6. July (9)
    7. June (8)
    8. May (9)
    9. April (7)
    10. March (8)
    11. February (7)
    12. January (8)
  6. 2013 (38)
    1. December (4)
    2. November (8)
    3. October (10)
    4. September (8)
    5. August (8)