Reflections on COP26 – Montague Jones and Maitreyi Tusharika
Maitreyi Tusharika and Montague Jones are the two COP26 Student Interns who worked with the Principal’s Office and the ESB from February 2021 to October 2021. They attended the official COP26 Blue Zone Events as part of the university delegation. Below is a summary of their reflections from the event, originally shared on the university instagram (@uniofstandrews).
What was COP26 like?
Maitreyi: Being at COP26 was an exciting, valuable experience where I was able to learn so much and engage with people from diverse backgrounds. The pavilions and events did not just involve world leaders and their delegations but were also spotlighting private green corporations, indigenous groups, and young people. I think it is vital that groups responsible for the current situation face those that are most affected by it, and so these discussions taking place were reassuring and showed that the event was a platform for the hidden and unheard voices. I had the most enriching conversations not just at the event, but also in queues outside the building and train journeys to and from the SEC.
I attended events in the four days that were related to the role of youth activists, indigenous change makers, climate finance, and innovative solutions to solve the climate crisis.
Montague: I attended events in the five days, relating to gender, science and innovation, transport, cities, regions and the built environment. Listening to profound panellists and discussing with fellow youth advocates the need to collaborate to tackle this international crisis.
What was your favourite moment?
Maitreyi: My favourite moment at the Blue Zone has to be the throat singing performance from the Canadian Inuit Homeland Members. They explained its historical significance and performed multiple routines that were an absolute delight to witness live.
Montague: My favourite moment was listening to Reverend Mariama White-Hammond discussing the vitality of engaging with our local communities to build a better world for all. To build trust with each other and act on that trust. To bring the youth, the vulnerable and the minority voices to the table and listen.
Any key takeaways that you would like to share?
Maitreyi: My takeaway from this experience would be to continue learning and never stop listening. There’s so many perspectives and sides to the climate crisis. It is imperative to constantly engage with and listen to others as this is the greatest source of inspiration and motivation to fight for a better future. It was inspiring to see that the representatives from the global south made clear that they do not intend to repeatedly attend such conferences if their situation is not respected and considered in the decisions made ahead.
Montague: My takeaway from this extraordinary experience is to continue to listen and learn from those around us. To collaborate, and have transparency- there are so many amazing perspectives in tackling the climate crisis. I believe the only way to solve this international crisis is to work together, to listen to everyone and be bold. I believe we often focus only on the major commitments governments make. Ones filled with empty promises that countries and corporations never act on. However, there are positive changes, innovative actions that incorporate a just and meaningful transition. These are the actions we must build on. These are the collaborations that must be communicated to the citizens of the world. There is no one-solution-fix-all. We must look to nature-based solutions, we must look to innovative green technologies, we must look to the ground-workers who are tirelessly working to better the environment for their community, we must look to indigenous nations- who have co-existed with the planet far longer than the skyscrapers of London have stood; and we must work together, to listen to one another no matter their background to fix this crisis the planet is experiencing.