Environmental Focus: Climate Change Debate

Photo © V. Krebs
Photo © V. Krebs
Diane Health, traduction française Pierre Flez, traducción española Tahona Santana Naranjo
14 March 2007

On March 6 2007, middle school students from The College de Léman (CDL), The International School of Geneva -- La Chataigneraie and Les Nations -- as well as eight students from the International School of Rotterdam convened for a lively debate between the students on a hot topic: Global Warming. The audience included students from the International Institute of Lancy, representatives from the Geneva environmental community, parents and invited guests.

The collaborative efforts of Mrs. Nicola Spafford Furey of The Earth Focus Foundation and the Geneva Environment Network (GEN) brought participants together at the International Environment House in Geneva where Mr. Aniket Ghai of GEN gave the welcoming remarks setting the day's events in motion.

The challenge of the day was to raise awareness and stimulate action within the school communities regarding sustainable development and environmental agendas affecting the future of the planet. Students had engaged for weeks in preparation and research to understand the issues of global warming and specifically how the part or group that they role played for this event fits into the big picture of the current climate situation. The moderator, Mr. Terence Gale head master at CDL set the pace as students representing industry, the academic community and native cultures assumed their respective roles to present their points. Groups as diverse as The Inuit culture of Alaska, Exxon, a professor from Cornell University, the head of Sleazy Jet, BMW,  a renown climatologist and others convincingly established their adopted perspective and defended these assumed positions throughout the event.

Following the debate, Dr. Douglas Crite a colleague of Dr. Martin Benniston from the University of Geneva, who specializes in climate change, elaborated on an issue the students had opened in their debate regarding the impact of climate change to water.

Mrs. Nicola Spafford Furey, excited by the day's presentations exclaimed: "The students should be running the world... they were brilliant!" As director of the Earth Focus Foundation and organizer of the debate -- this was the tenth -- she said they just keep getting better. To see students of this age involved in this debate project discussing tough questions and proactive solutions which affect us all is not only encouraging for the audience but extremely empowering for the students and their peers.

Three of our volunteers assisted with logistics on site and enjoyed the opportunity to engage with students, parents and representatives from Geneva's network of environmental groups who were in attendance. Volunteer, Diane Heath adds "through association with ICVolunteers, access to this project and interaction with the students, I can see the more far reaching manner in which our volunteer services can support the developing awareness and the best efforts of our young people not only in Geneva, but around the world through the networks we're all creating."

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