Guest blog: Inspiring Change – Reflections on the Reading Schools Climate Conference 2023

In 2023 our work with InterClimate Network (ICN) has scaled up due to the formation of a team of climate conference associate facilitators. We have worked with ICN to expand the conferences delivered to include a range of formats, hosted by individual schools, as well as in town halls across England.

The 10th Reading schools’ climate conference was held in December, organised and facilitated by the Just Ideas’ team. Here Just Ideas’ associate and guest blogger Farid Abdurrahman (pictured) shares his reflections on the day:

On the 8th of December, the Reading Council Chamber became a hub of enthusiasm, ideas, and positive energy as schools gathered for the much-anticipated Reading Schools Climate Conference. Stepping into the council chambers, my initial impression was marked by a palpable sense of positive competition among students, a testament to their dedication and passion for addressing global climate challenges.

The participating schools were divided into various countries, each representing a unique perspective on climate issues. From South Africa to the UK, USA, India, China, Marshall Islands, and Uganda, it was evident that extensive research had laid the foundation for their presentations.

One striking aspect of the conference was the students’ keen awareness of global injustices in trade. As they delved into the complexities of international commerce, it became clear that the next generation is not only concerned about the environment but also actively engaged in critical thinking about the systemic issues contributing to climate change.

During the discussions, a notable example arose when the UK representatives acknowledged their country’s excessive oil imports. What set this apart was their simultaneous recognition of the need for collaborative action. They emphasised that the USA, too, should scrutinise the impact of the oil they import. This level of critical thinking and nuanced understanding of the interconnectedness of global issues was truly heartening.

Equally impressive were the concrete, credible, and collaborative solutions proposed by the students. Their commitment to addressing climate change went beyond rhetoric, as they presented actionable steps that reflected a deep understanding of the challenges at hand. This commitment was further underscored during collaborative sessions, where students from different countries were tasked with developing joint initiatives to tackle environmental issues in their respective communities.

The collaborative element of the conference added a layer of richness to the discussions. Witnessing students break into groups and earnestly brainstorming ways to address environmental challenges in their communities was a testament to their sense of shared responsibility and a promising indicator of future collaboration on a global scale.

In conclusion, the Reading Schools Climate Conference was more than just an event—it was a gathering of passionate minds determined to make a difference. The pleasant vibe in the chambers mirrored the positive energy and collaborative spirit that permeated the entire conference. As we reflect on the outcomes of this gathering, there is a sense of hope for the future, knowing that these young minds are not just aware of the challenges we face but are actively working towards creating a sustainable and harmonious world.

Comprehensive Eco-Initiatives: Transformative Strategies Across Reading Schools

The schools, in addition to their insightful presentations, also formulated impactful solutions aimed at making a positive difference to address environmental challenges within their respective communities.  Some of the initiatives that the students came up with were :

  • Embrace composting of vegetable food waste for use in school gardens to reduce environmental impact.

  • Enhance waste reduction efforts by strategically installing or repositioning recycling bins throughout school and incentivising increased participation.

  • Amplify awareness of climate action urgency and opportunities through the Student Leadership Team while fostering increased environmental action within the school community.

  • Revitalise an Eco Committee and a geography club with the support of the Student Leadership Team and teachers, focusing on enhancing green spaces and waste management. Plans include showcasing and disseminating successful ideas throughout the school’s Academy Trust.

To find out more about hosting a Model Climate Conference please get in touch 



Guest blog: Supporting Solihull Schools to recreate COP 27

Timed to coincide with the annual COP talks – this year in Egypt – the InterClimate Network Schools’ Climate Conferences have become a fixture in the Just Ideas’ calendar.

This year we have been working together to create a group of facilitators – comprised of our Just Ideas associates – to roll out the delivery of Climate Conferences on school sites, using the resources developed by InterClimate Network. This will help to scale the number of conferences delivered to school students around England in the future.

Here, associate and guest blogger Aideen Blackborough has written about her experience of  supporting the recent Conference in Solihull:

“Just Ideas Associates have been busy supporting several Climate Change Conferences across the country.  Students form country teams,  each representing a participating country, and then take on the role of government negotiators, thus replicating the COP27 conference.

Each of the conferences to date have seen lively and thoughtful debate between pupils as they explore the issues of Climate Change. It’s been fascinating to watch as the pupils present their ideas and propose solutions for solving the crisis.

We’ve been absolutely delighted to work with the InterClimate Network team on such an important and pressing project.

Councillor Ian Meeson, The Mayor of Solihull, who opened the Solihull Conference, said, “It’s great to see this hall so full as this is an extremely important conference about an extremely important issue. We are all concerned about what is happening to the world and it is about more than just clean air.”

Read more about Aideen’s experience of  supporting the Solihull Conference on her blog here.

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