The winds of change may have blown the venue from Santiago, Chile to Madrid, Spain, but a dedicated group of 13 Clark graduate students are attending the 25th annual Conference of the Parties (COP) being held December 2-13.
Led by Clark University Associate Professor Elisabeth Gilmore and dual MBA and M.S. in environmental science and policy student Kortni Wroten, the group is eager go beyond the walls of the classroom to share their passion and knowledge on the world stage. Wroten was Clark’s first ever student delegate at the 2018 COP conference held in Poland.
“Many of us feel that climate change is a defining issue of our time and we want to apply the skills we have gained at Clark in research, communication, and understanding social justice. Clarkies are committed to extending their impact to the international community,” says Wroten.
The students have been schooled on the ins and outs of the international gathering through a class taught by Gilmore in conjunction with Colorado State University Associate Professor Gillian Bowser and Professor Sarah Green of Michigan Technological University.
The class is not a primer on international travel. Gilmore, Bowser, and Green charged the students with conducting research on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which serve as a call to action for countries around the world. Teams with students from Clark, CSU, and MTU will present their semester-long research findings on individual SDGs at press conferences held throughout the COP.
The students will be observing the negotiations, engaging and networking with climate groups from all over the world, and bringing their perspectives and enthusiasm to various events. By immersing themselves in the international negotiations, the students hope to further their collective understanding of current processes as well as communicate the voice of youth to influence climate policy.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the international response to climate change. The treaty sets out the basic responsibilities of the 196 Parties plus the European Union to fight climate change. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. The Parties meet annually to review progress in the implementation of the Convention.