Wed 10 Nov 21
An inspiring model and activist told a packed meeting that “young people are paving the way” in fighting climate change at a crunch University of Essex hosted panel.
United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador Sabrina Elba, the wife of Hollywood star Idris Elba, made the bold statement after returning from addressing world leaders in Glasgow at the COP26 climate conference.
The free event It’s Now or Never: Inspiring global action to protect the planet saw Sabrina partner with Global Citizen - a charity which aims to build a movement of 100 million action-taking people to help end extreme poverty by 2030 and defend the planet.
She joined Michael Sheldrick, Co-Founder of Global Citizen, and former University of Essex student Kindred Motes, founder and Managing Director at KM Strategies and Senior Impact Advisor at Global Citizen in the Lakeside Theatre on the Colchester Campus.
Sabrina told the audience to “always use your voice and remember the value of it” and that “it’s young people who are paving the way and young people who are doing what’s right”.
She said: “I think coming to panels like this where we can engage with young people and speak to them about the issues is really important.”
And added: “I think younger people really have a dial on the issue and what is happening as they will be most affected by what is happening, more so than our generation.
“I want to see the roles reversed a bit and more youth in leadership positions.
“I don’t think a leader is dependent on how old you are and how much experience you have, I think passion is a big part of it.
“As you see people like Vanessa Nakate and Greta Thunberg really have passion for these issues and it’ll be great to see their voices at the table.”
The inspiring conference comes after the University declared a climate and ecological emergency and will move to net zero by 2035 to fight the looming global catastrophe.
Kindred Motes, who studied for his master’s degree in International Relations at Essex, said: “It has been really enjoyable to come back to Essex and share the experience of COP 26 and the G20 with people who are passionate about the environment, taking sustainable action, and who believe in the power of individual voices.
“We have seen from the protests in Glasgow, particularly from the leadership of young people, that people understand the enormity of government action that’s needed.
“It is clear, too, that they know that intersectionality and coalition-building are key in calling for these changes and in pushing for their leaders to lead.
“However, we are clear that it is not just government that needs to drive change; we need to use pressure placed on corporations for action to help bring along nations, along with civil society and philanthropic leaders.
“We are really grateful to the University of Essex for hosting us and we are proud of its leadership in taking actions commensurate with the scale of the crisis.”
As part of The University of Essex’s commitment to fighting the climate emergency, it is now committed to ensuring research, education and operations will focus on taking on climate change and reducing the environmental impact of its work.
To combat the crisis the University is committed to cutting emissions, moving to renewable energy, supporting biodiversity, and encouraging all staff, students and academics to innovate to find solutions to the potential catastrophe.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony chaired the event which was attended by around 100 students and staff.
Professor Fox O’Mahony said: “Here, at the University of Essex, we recognise the world is at a crossroads and that time is running out to act. This is why in 2020 we declared a climate and ecological emergency, to reflect our commitment to action for change, to make the difference we need to slow climate change before it is too late.
“Our community of students, staff and academics are dedicated to helping progress actions to turn the tide on climate change. It was a privilege to chair this inspirational panel and to learn from experts like Sabrina, Kindred and Michael about what we all need to do to fight the climate crisis.
“We recognise the considerable role that the University has to play in tackling climate and ecological change, and we are committed to helping to find solutions to one of the biggest threats facing the world right now.
"We are proud to be working in partnership with Global Citizen. This important event helped us explore together what we can do, what all need to do, to deliver on our commitments in taking decisive action to address this crisis facing humanity.”