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December Dear World - sharing a youth message for COP28
Dear World - sharing a youth message for COP28
University of Galway supports local school students as official observer delegation attends Dubai summit
To coincide with University of Galway's official observer status at the COP28 global summit, a "Dear World" message from a group of young people is being shared.
The letter, and video which can be viewed here on YouTube, have been created to articulate the hopes and fears about the climate crisis of students in two post-primary schools in the Cois Fharraige Gaeltacht in Galway.
The Cois Fharraige to COP project, which was conducted entirely through the Irish language, coincides with the attendance of a five strong delegation of University of Galway academics and researchers at the summit - the first time the University has been represented with official observer status.
Twenty students from Coistí Glasa, or Green Committees, in Coláiste Chroí Mhuire, an Spidéal (Spiddal) and Coláiste Cholmcille, Indreabhán (Inverin) participated in three workshops organised by a team from the University, supported by Fóram Chois Fharraige um Phleanáil Teanga. Guest speakers were brought in to help gather student inputs and ideas on issues related to the negotiations at COP28. The students heard about distinctive flora in the area, the importance of peatlands, the challenge of rising sea levels and the impact of climate change on agriculture.
The workshops led to the students helping to draft a letter to the world to express their views:
From this small community on the edge of Europe, we’re asking for help.
We live on the west coast of Ireland, between peat bogland and the shore, in a place that has always had respect for the sea. When it’s calm, we go swimming and fishing. But with the advent of climate change, the things we value most are turning into a threat.
Research shows that sea levels and temperatures continue to rise. We see that Atlantic storms are getting more powerful, more frequent. Rainfall levels are growing continuously. And it feels like the seasons are out of sync.
We are grateful for the beach, the fields, the blanket bog and everything that lives and grows there. But we are worried too. Even during our lifetime, we can see nature’s treasure in decline.
It wasn’t young people who burnt the oil, cut the turf, felled the trees. But we will suffer the consequences most of all. This generation is ready to tackle climate change with enthusiasm and energy. But are you?
Let’s stand together, as one global community, and turn our words into action.
Young people of Cois Fharraige.
The sentiments were subsequently recorded on video as a message from young people in Connemara, on the edge of Ireland and Europe, to global leaders at COP28.
Full details of the project are on https://www.universityofgalway.ie/cop28/
President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “While our University is embedded in our community and is deeply conscious of the role we can play for the public good by attending COP28, we are also here to offer opportunity to those in our community to play their part. The students who supported the Cois Fharraige to COP project have created a message to the world at what is clearly a critical juncture. The impact of humanity’s effect on the planet is becoming visible on all corners and the message from young people, here in the west of Ireland, is a unique perspective on how the climate and biodiversity crises are having an impact, in the present tense. The time is now and we hope their thoughts make an impression and resonate as loudly as the calls for action at COP28.”
The University of Galway delegation at COP28 includes Professor of Engineering Jamie Goggins, Professor Charlie Spillane, Director of University of Galway’s Ryan Institute; Dr Una Murray, lecturer and researcher in Geography and with the Ryan Institute; and two researchers studying for PhD - Yuhan Zheng and Lala Rukh Memon.
Dr John Caulfield, Director of Strategy Implementation at University of Galway, who led the Cois Fharraige to COP project, said: “If we don’t take action to tackle climate change, our young people will suffer the consequences. That’s why we worked with secondary school students in Cois Fharraige to help them express their hopes and fears about our changing climate with the world. Climate change is felt differently depending on where you live, and our teenagers have described in a compelling way how climate change is impacting the west of Ireland here and now.”
While 20 students from the two schools took part in the Cois Fharraige to COP project, six feature in the video: Coláiste Chroí Mhuire, an Spidéal – Kate Ní Raghallaigh, Ella Nic Dhomhnaill, Chloe Ní Choisdealbha; Coláiste Cholmcille, Indreabhán – Daniel Mac Eochagáin, Aodán Ó Donnchadha, Paul Bheilbigh.