The Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC) held its 2022-2023 Board Meeting on February 28th. Members of the GAUC Board and representatives from GAUC’s member universities gathered online to witness GAUC’s progress in 2022 and exchange ideas on how to further convene the collective strength of higher education to tackle the challenge of climate change.
WANG Xiqin, Chair of GAUC’s Board and President of Tsinghua University, attended the meeting at the offline venue inside Tsinghua. “Despite the uncertainties in the current fractured context, GAUC has harnessed the collective strength of our 15 member universities to address climate change and achieve significant milestones,” President Wang said in his opening remarks. “Climate change poses an existential challenge that surpasses the spatial dimension of national borders, the temporal dimension of a single generation, and the species dimension of mankind. As centers of learning, research, and innovation, universities have a critical role to play in all the three dimensions. By pooling our strength together, GAUC is able to maximize the impact and make significant contributions towards a sustainable future shared by all,” he pointed out.
Minouche Shafik, President and Vice-Chancellor of London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Co-chair of GAUC Board also emphasized the distinctive role of universities in tackling climate change. “We have the convening power to pull together all the stakeholders that are critical, governments, business, and civil societies,” she said. “The LSE is committed to continuing to work through the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate.”
YANG Bin, the Chair of GAUC’s Executive Committee and Vice President and Provost of Tsinghua, moderated the opening remarks session.
LI Zheng, GAUC’s Secretary General and the President of the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua, moderated the working report session. WANG Binbin, the GAUC Executive Secretary-General, illustrated GAUC’s major achievement in the year of 2022.
Having realized the obstacles that the next generation had to face in addressing climate change, GAUC proposed the Week to UNFCCC back in January 2022. Scheduled one week ahead of each UNFCCC COP, the Week aims to provide a platform for next generation worldwide to convey their climate actions, to help them voice out their climate dedication stronger and to prepare them to take the lead in shaping the net-zero future. Ms Patricia Espinosa, the then UNFCCC Executive Secretary appraised it as “an impactful contribution to the UNFCCC process.”
In order to maximize the effect of the Week and to engage broader audiences, GAUC has called out to its global partners to co-initiate the Week. Within a month, over 100 co-initiators from 6 continents came aboard to support the climate actions of youth, including academic institutions & think tanks, renowned brands from the private sector, media agencies, charities, international & regional organizations, NGOs, and civil society. On 31st October, GAUC launched Global Youth Climate Week together with its global co-initiators, unveiling the international stage of the ‘Climate x’ Campaign.
During the COP27, selected GAUC Global Youth Ambassadors formed the GAUC COP27 Youth Delegation and went to the forefront of global climate governance in Egypt. At COP27, they organized 2 press conferences, supported over a dozen side events, participated in 12 multi-stakeholder dialogues, observed 7 negotiations, and announced a GAUC Ambassadors’ Open Letter to world leaders on behalf of 100 GAUC Global Youth Ambassadors. With the support of GAUC secretariate and their dedication towards a net-zero future, they have handed the open letter personally to 5 national heads of state, 14 ministers from 11 countries, and 14 government delegations to COP.
As the climax of the ‘Climate x’ Campaign, the GAUC ‘Climate x’ High-level Event, which was organized during the GAUC Day at COP27, was attended by national and international policy makers, leading academic experts, and C-suite executives to witness the achievement of the climate actions by the next generation.
In his address at the event, XIE Zhenhua, China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, spoked highly of the synergetic approach between climate change and other SDGs goals. He said: The ‘Climate x’ Campaign that GAUC launched in 2022 explored synergetic approaches to solving climate change challenges, and proved itself to be an innovative contribution to the global climate governance by facilitating the realization of the carbon neutral goal and the sustainable development goal.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), acknowledged GAUC’s endeavor in mobilizing the climate actions of global youth. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, France’s Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, emphasized the important role youth play in shaping the net-zero future.
Member universities of the University of Cambridge, Stellenbosch University, University of California, Berkley, the University of Oxford, and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, also contributed diversified events during the GAUC Day, presenting another vivid demonstration of the collective endeavor of higher education in addressing climate change.
During the discussion session, the representatives acknowledged the achievement of the campaign regarding talent cultivation and exchanged opinions about the governance and future development of the alliance. President Shafik moderated the session
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