On the 7th February, I was lucky to attend the Student Sustainability Summit in Lincoln, hosted by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS). Following the demonstrations from student groups such as the End Fossil movement, who run the People’s Assemblies, and the SU’s endorsement of the Fossil Free Careers, I felt that it was important to attend this event. I was able to network with other officers, share experiences of climate protests on our campuses, and discuss ideas of climate justice and what it means to us.
The event took place just a day after the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, so the opening panel began with a two-minute silence, followed by reflections on how climate change is causing more and normalising natural disasters like this, as well as earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes. The panel, made up of two inspiring student activists and convened by SOS co-founder, Zamzam Ibrahim, discussed how historically marginalised groups are the most affected by climate change, while they are typically the groups that have caused the least damage – bringing attention to the fact that the area affected by the earthquake has the densest population of refugees in the world.
Intersectionality framed every session, and every discussion, that took place within the summit, and everyone acknowledged that there is not equal access for everyone to be able to reflect and discuss climate justice. The system is not inclusive. It is not designed to empower and bring marginalised groups to the table, and therefore a large focus of the movement should be mobilising intersectional thinking and putting this into action in every area of our lives. Diversity of ideas and perspectives provides more powerful solutions.
The Summit provided me with a more rounded insight into the climate crises, interlinking conversations of social injustice, decolonising, decarbonising, and further democratising the education systems that we engage with in this country. Hearing the perspectives of other officers and of those who work within SOS has motivated me to continue amplifying the voices of students from all backgrounds and lobbying the institutions for authentic sustainable change.
Here are two quotes from the event that have stuck with me, and I hope that they also encourage you to reflect on your own experiences and take a more intersectional approach when considering the climate crises.
“If bare minimum inclusivity is being invited to a party, genuine inclusivity is being asked to dance.”
“We are all in the same storm (the climate crisis) but our varying privileges mean we are facing the storm in different boats, with some groups being able to avoid the worst effects.”