University student attends United Nations conference

January 12 / 78

Australian student delegates to the UNFCC with Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Australian student delegates to the UNFCC with Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Jayden Holmes, who is studying the Bachelor of Science, has attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). 

Mr Holmes, who is majoring in Geography, joined five other student representatives from around Australia at the UNFCC in Durban, South Africa, late last year. The convention was a chance for representatives from the UN countries to discuss the best ways to address climate change.

The student delegates attended the Conference of Youth, a three-day event held for all the young people attending the convention. They heard from the Founder of, Bill McKibben, and Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Mr Holmes said he applied to join the Australian delegation after seeing the opportunity advertised on the University’s student portal. 

“I had completed a subject on sustainable development, which piqued my interest in this field,” he said.

“Attending the convention was an incredible opportunity to experience first-hand how international diplomacy actually happens.

 “I took a lot away with me, including greater appreciation of the complexity of environmental politics. I feel it has given me a real foot in the door for future academic and professional endeavours.”

Mr Holmes said a highlight was working with students from around the world to influence the negotiations, and change one of the final texts which came out of the meeting through policy lobbying.

The student delegates also had several opportunities to sit in the plenary rooms and listen to influential figures including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, UN Messenger for Peace Dr Jane Goodall, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson. They also met Helen Clarke (Administrator of the UNDP and former Prime Minister of New Zealand) and Dr Rajendra Pachauri (Nobel Laureate and Chair of the IPCC). 

“I was able to discover a lot about the UNFCCC process (and climate change in general) and, more importantly, had the opportunity to take what I had learnt throughout my degree beyond the classroom setting,” he said.

“I was able to connect on an international level with hundreds of others who share my passion for environmental and social justice. It’s the sort of stuff you can’t learn from a textbook.”    


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