Dutch Climate Youth Summit Off to a Promising Start

By Saga Norrby

–Science Park is soon to have its own climate youth summit, following a well-received pitch in the dorms of the Amsterdam University College (AUC).

25 people attended the event on Wednesday 28 March, hosted by the initiators of the project Lennart Tiller, a second-year Social Science major, and Lena Hartog, an alumna of University College Utrecht (UCU). Their pitch aimed at recruiting a team of volunteers that can help set up a national Conference of Youth (COY) by the end of October.

An international COY is held every year in connection with the annual Conference of Parties (COP). COPs are organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and are conferences at which world leaders negotiate actions to mitigate climate change.

To start off their pitch, Tiller and Hartog took turns explaining how they became active in fighting climate change. For both Naomi Klein’s book “This Changes Everything” played a pivotal role, especially in their realisation that no one can deal with climate change alone. Hartog said she had found it hard to break out of the mindset of a consumer, and that her education had not helped. “We need a mass movement worldwide, and that’s not what I’ve been taught at UCU”, she said.

Tiller went on to stress the power of the youth, and how fragmented he thinks it has become. According to him, youth as a group is neither tangible nor united. “The youth-only exists as a concept”, he said, and pointed out that students used to once be the main initiators of social movements. “We become so influential when we work together”, he added.

When the pitch came to a close, Adele Beinaraviciute, a second-year Social Science major and member of the Student Council, said, “This is amazing.” She added that students most likely could use this initiative as an opportunity to fulfil the internship/community project requirement which all AUC students are subject to.

Beinaraviciute was not the only one who liked what she had heard. Lisa van Holsteijn, a third-year Social Science major, said, “There is no way I’m saying no to this, that would be a huge future regret.”

Both Tiller and Hartog have participated in civil disobedience acts against the fossil fuel industry in the past; that is how they met. When evaluating the two different approaches to tackling climate change – civil disobedience versus policy discussions – Hartog said, “With civil disobedience, we’re breaking down a system, with a COY we’re building another.”

Information on how to apply to become part of the organising team was posted on Facebook after the event, in a group called Friends of Dutch Climate Youth Summit. The applications will close on April 2.


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