Students fly to UN climate conference in Germany

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Students fly to UN climate conference in Germany

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Senior Research Fellow Dr Tristan Pearce, front right, with students Miguel van der Velden (front left), Miguel Frohlich (back left) and Erin McPhail (back right).

5 November 2017

Four USC Sustainability students and a Sustainability Research Centre academic will take their passion for environmental issues to Germany this week, when they attend an annual conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The first USC undergraduate and research student delegation to attend the UN’s annual Conference of the Parties (COP) will leave Australia for Bonn on Tuesday 7 November.

Senior Research Fellow in Geography Dr Tristan Pearce, who will present papers at the UNESCO Pavilion’s Small Island and Developing States day, said USC students would work closely with delegates from Arctic countries, the Caribbean, and Fiji, whose government would preside over the conference from 6-17 November.

“This is an amazing opportunity to showcase on an international stage USC’s commitment to sustainability and the rights of Indigenous peoples,” Dr Pearce said.

He said governments, citizens and industry from across the globe would attend the 23rd Conference to discuss actions to combat climate change and the human activities causing it.

Miguel van der Velden, 20, who is studying Sustainability courses in his USC Bachelor of Journalism, is interested in the conference’s focus on Small Island Developing States.

The Sippy Downs resident is Wayuu, an Indigenous peoples of the Guajira Peninsula in Columbia and Venezuela, and he grew up in Aruba, an island of 100,000 people off the coast of Venezuela.

He will be a representative on the Caribbean Youth Environment Network at the COP.

“I hope to bring attention to the challenges faced by island states, and to learn more about Indigenous issues that I would like to research,” he said.

Miguel Frohlich, 32, from Brazil and now living in Brisbane’s West End, said the conference would inform his current PhD research into the role of law in adaptive coastal management.

Master of Arts student Eric Lede, 25, from Darwin and now living in Maroochydore, wants to champion the voices of Inuit, Indigenous peoples of the Canadian Arctic.

Bachelor of Environmental Management student Erin McPhail, 25, from Cairns and now living in Coolum Beach, is focused on the human health implications of climate change and plans to build on her training as a nurse and paramedic.

A fifth USC student to attend the Bonn conference will be Danielle Rietberg, 28, who is iTuakei, Indigenous Fijian. She grew up in the Solomon Islands and Fiji and now lives in Mooloolaba. She is studying Environmental Science at USC.

— Julie Schomberg

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