1. What is the COP26 Forum and when is it taking place?
COP26 is the Conference of Parties and is the 26th meeting of the United Nations Climate Change conference series. COPs are held annually and this year it is being hosted in Glasgow under the co-presidency of the UK and Italy. Our COP26 Forum at Royal Holloway is a programme of events running from now until 12 November, showcasing how our staff, students and professional services around campus are undertaking important research around climate change and sustainability, taking action, and thinking about what else we need to do. There are events on campus and online, open to all staff and students, and some also to local residents and the wider public.
2. Are any of our academics attending the COP26 Global Conference in Glasgow?
Royal Holloway is an accredited observer to COP26 and a member of the COP26 Universities Network. Up to ten academic colleagues will be attending COP26 and they will be undertaking a range of work, from conducting ethnographic research on the meeting itself to presenting research findings and participating in wider activities, such as exploring the role that faith communities can play in encouraging climate change adaption and mitigation, in an initiative supported by the Vatican.
Mary Matheson, Course Director of the MA Immersive Storytelling, will be exhibiting an interactive documentary series called ‘A Brighter Future’ at COP26.
3. What events will we be running over the two weeks?
We have a wide range of events on campus and online – and we’d like to thank Royal Holloway staff and students for their energy in putting these on. The response has been inspiring.
On Monday 1 November, we have a Carbon Literacy Training taster session (read quotes on how transformative this training can be here) and a student-led World Climate Summit simulation. On Tuesday, there is a panel discussion on Health in the Anthropocene and a student-led debate with Surrey councillors on plans to reach Net Zero – so come along to have your say. On Wednesday, we have a discussion on writing and literature in this time of climate emergency and on Thursday we welcome Tom Heap, podcaster and author of 39 Ways to Save the Planet. At the weekends there is an opportunity for guided Eco Walks around the arboretum and grounds. And that’s just the first week!
We will also be announcing the winners of our student competition, which asked for creative approaches to sustainability, while from 8 November on campus there will be promotions of meat-free eating, keep cups and refills, and plant-based swaps.
Many of our colleagues are involved in research that is directly relevant and contributing the UN SDGs. We wanted to give a platform for this, so every day from now to the end of COP26 we are publishing at least one blog post on an SDG, from SDG 1 ‘No poverty’ to SDG 17 ‘Partnerships for the goals’. You can read them on the staff intranet.
5. Royal Holloway is a member of the COP26 Universities Network, can you tell us a bit more about what this means?
The COP26 Universities Network is a network of over 50 UK-based universities which is seeking to support and engage with the COP conference. The network has been releasing a series of policy briefings (some of which have been written by students) addressing some of the challenges facing countries as they seek to advance their plans for Net Zero. As a member of the network, we think there are longer-term opportunities for academic colleagues and students to contribute to UK and international climate change policy.
6. How can I get involved and find out more?
Please do join in the events and be part of the discussions. – and share with students, colleagues, friends. Our COP26 Forum signals the university’s commitment to pursuing future research and engagement with ‘living sustainably’, so we see this as the beginning of something much longer term.
The full list of events is on the student intranet and check out social media posts with the hashtag #rhcop26forum