On 5-6 May 2016, Universitas 21 was represented at the high-level summit, Climate Action 2016 in Washington DC. Climate Change researchers from 11 of our institutions participated in discussions and panel debates. The summit was preceded by two events. On 3 May, U21 organised a workshop on North-South relations, focusing on responses to climate change in the light of social justice and the next day, 4 May, the University of Maryland organised and hosted a one-day public open forum on the role of universities in fighting climate change in which U21 researchers took an active role.
As an important outcome of the workshop, our researchers formulated a letter to the UN Secretary General expressing the willingness and preparedness of U21 to contribute to implementing the post-Paris agenda. On behalf of U21, I had the honour to sign the letter and hand it over to Mr Ban Ki-moon at an informal meeting with him which UMD’s Dean of the School of Public Policy, Dr Robert Orr, had organised. This informal meeting was also attended by former US Vice-President Al Gore, representatives from our U21 climate change group and a few other academics. Together we discussed how universities can contribute to the implementation of the post-Paris agenda.
In our letter to Mr Ban, we presented an explicit commitment to sustainability in all its operations: education, research and outreach. This builds on Sustainability Statement our members jointly signed.
We also invited the United Nations to participate in a two-day U21 conference on migration to be held at the University of Hong Kong in October 2017. This will be an opportunity for academics (and, of course, students) to meet representatives from civil society and governments at all levels to discuss migration from a variety of perspectives, such as climate change, health science, language science, and law. At the meeting, I presented the possibility of linking the Climate Action 2016 and other UN activities in 2016 to the Hong Kong conference.
On behalf of Universitas 21, I would like to thank all the colleagues at the University of Maryland – Professor Wallace Loh, Professor Robert Orr, Dr Nathan Hultman, Dr Anand Patwardhan and the secretariat team as well as Dr Lennart Olsson from Lund University, for their excellent work in organising the U21 Workshop and the Climate Forum.
Professor Eva Wiberg
Executive Director, Universitas 21