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Shared Planet

30 July 2012

People and Planet

On 12-13 November 2011, Andrea Blanco Toro, a QM student and member of the Green Mary society attended the People and Planet Shared Planet Conference on behalf of the students at QM. Below is an article written by Andrea on her experience at the conference.

Shared Planet lecture

"We, the people, have the chance to decide and save our planet" assured Polly Higgins, environmental lawyer to 350 expectant students attending Shared Planet 2011. On the 12th and 13th of November Oxford’s Town Hall was the home of People and Planet's Global Student Action Festival, involving young activists from schools and universities all over the UK. Needless to say, a weekend where this message was transmitted in the form of inspirational campaign sessions and workshops (including those led by pupils themselves) leaves you with no other choice and with no greater desire than to take action.

The greatest national conference about Environment, Poverty and Human Rights took off at 10:00am on the Saturday, only to discover that speakers from diverse yet complementing backgrounds successfully managing to place inevitable questions in the audience's mind. All the way from Kenya, editor in chief of Pambazuka News and former programme director of Amnesty International Africa Firoze Manji set the audience thinking with his belief that "People are not poor, people are MADE poor" in his opening speech. Some say one's freedom begins where another's freedom ends, but how true is this in a capitalist world?

A series of lectures included Canadian Crystal Cardinal-Lameman who narrated, in tears, the destructive consequences of the tar sands industry in her indigenous community of Alberta. This emotional scene encouraged listeners to actively participate in a selection of around 20 workshops, ranging from sustainability of controversial biofuels to Zero Carbon Britain 2030 plans and Fairtrade.

In an over-populated world where more than 925 million people are hungry, a worker can be paid less than £2 for 17 hours of labour and climate change is becoming a growing problem we become increasingly aware that the world is not perfect. Whether the reason be the system, science or nature itself, it is time for UK universities to involve themselves and provide a platform to help eradicate these problems, using students' unions as a venue for people to support a cause and fight towards sustainable development.

People and Planet has launched a new edition of its Go Green Week campaign which will take place from the 6th to 11th of February 2012. It aims to raise awareness of environmental challenges the world is currently facing. Education centres around the country are more than welcome to contribute towards the cause, introducing initiatives such as Meat-Free Mondays or Waste-Not Wednesdays among others in their campuses, as well as creating their own proposals. Green Mary will be organising the event on our campus and all of you are encouraged to attend the meetings to be part of it.

Other environmentally-friendly projects are available, for example The Big Green Makeover which trains students and staff on how to make their homes more energy efficient and cost-effective. With all this support on the table, it would be a pity not to raise your voice.

Andrea Blanco Toro – 17/11/2011

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