My name is Billy and I am a volunteer with the AYCC in Victoria. I first heard about the AYCC through a friend during a discussion we were having about potential volunteer opportunities. She recommended them highly, and with climate change being something I already had an interest in, I was soon signing my first petitions and then expressed an interest to volunteer.
Two AYCC volunteers went on a once in a life time trip to Iceland, a hardy yet fragile country, a place that will be deeply impacted by climate change.
On their journey the girls travelled through the picturesque country side and attended a two day climate conference.
Here is their story:
With glaciers melting, river’s volume and courses will change, impacting on farms, animals and the landscape. Iceland will experience even more erratic weather patterns than it currently does. Climate change will impact this idyllic country!
We FINALLY arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland (Iceland is the green one, Greenland is the icy one) after three flights, four airports and 40 hours of travel! Stepping off the plane felt like walking on a flowery, mossy, windy planet… it is out of this world.
We came to Iceland to attend the 6th International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses to help present and run a workshop for the EIANZ (Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand) who are introducing a certification scheme for climate change and other (eg. Anyone involved in climate change such as paramedics, engineers, doctors, etc.) professionals. We aim to put forward the proposed proficiencies for the certification to the conference delegates so that they can give feedback and perhaps take the idea back to their home countries. We will talk about this later, however.
Our first impressions of Iceland were (and continue to be) only good things. This is a land of widespread wifi (even on the bus!), very expensive food and accommodation, street art, moss, tiny yet adorable houses, funky urban design, ridiculous weather, cool culture and music (think Bjork, Sigur Ros and many more – what else do they have to do when there’s no daylight for six months a year??), environmental awareness, renewables and geothermal activity, workplace gender equality, Vikings, 24 hours of daylight (we are not even kidding, it hasn’t got dark once), dried fish and a language that sounds like gibberish.
We woke up wide eyed for our first official day in Iceland. Our 15 minute walk to the University of Iceland, where the conference was held, was a nice crisp morning walk – just what we needed after 12ish hours sleep over three long days.
The university is a landmark in its self, way way cooler than any buildings from uni back in Brisbane. We entered a huge glass building and from then onwards the networking began. A plenary quick started the conference where the other 143 delegates from 42 countries introduced themselves to one another. It’s something about people that are passionate about climate change which makes for great and endless conversation.
Within this initial meet and greet most of the Australians met each other – which was a surprisingly high amount (go us!).
We all got along really well and agreed all too well on Australia’s current stance on climate change.
The next few hours was full of 20 minute presentations, based around different topics surrounding climate change and its impact on all parts of the world.
The presentations we found most interesting and relevant to our work with AYCC was probably those talks presented by Professor Nick Harvey, Dr Nancy Mackin and Dr Stephen Sheppard.
Professor Harvey spoke about politics and its responses to climate change along the coasts of Australia. His talk was particularly interesting and relevant to us because he spoke of the important of the ‘Combination Lock’, a concept that enables more movement and climate action to happen when both the Federal and State government are of the same ideologies (AKA the same party is in power). He put us in contact with this resource which is very interesting, particularly from an AYCC point of view:http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/verve/_resources/ClimateoftheNation_final_file_20June.pdf. Excerpts can be seen below:
He provided us with a graphic he had found in the web and used in his presentation which is below.
Dr Nancy Mackin, was another speaker in the same session as Professor Harvey. She spoke about the necessity to work with indigenous elders (in her case native American peoples) to understand and appreciate the natural land, in order to avoid and mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Her study of moss and its versatility to be used as building materials when constructing igloo sort of huts was seriously cool. While in -35 degree temperatures, Dr Mackin worked with young kids from Circumpolar North Canada and native elders to construct a modern day ‘Moss House’ using only materials they’d sourced from nature.
Out of the 10 or so presentations we listened to today, Stephen’s Sheppard presentation was one of the most intriguing. Doctor Sheppard’s talk focused around presenting climate change visually. He believes that bringing meaning to the numbers and scientific graphs we use through visual learning and local engagement was a much more effective way of spreading the message. Sheppard, alongside Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) produces interactive images that show exactly what the graphs are trying to say but in a personal, engaging way. We wish we could show you some of the awesome slides he showed us, let’s just say they were muchhhh more advanced than Microsoft Power Point 2010.
However the same points are still relevant for all us that are trying to get the message out there:
- Convert graphs to graphics
- Put it into personal perspective
- Pin point exactly what will happen and how it will affect your audience and their daily lives.
Today was the second and final day of the 6th International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts & Responses which was held at the university, here in Iceland’s capital city.
At midday we were due to present our presentation on climate change certification alongside Rosemary and Simon from the EIANZ. Until then though we attended the morning plenary session, one which focused on educating on climate change and the thought processes which are most effective combined with different learning styles.
We scoffed down some incrediblyyyy delicious falafels and quickly headed back to prep for our presentation. As midday approached people started filing into the room, which was really encouraging. Simon got the ball rolling and soon enough recommendations and question were flying around the room. Maia and I helped answer questions during the workshop time. Our main role was to enter data that we received from delegates so we could present and project graphs right then and there. In the end our presentation went overwhelmingly well and we were so glad for the positive and constructive feedback we received on the professional proficiencies. The hard part was done, kaput and out of the way!!
The rest of the day featured cool presentations of environmental art and how their messages, consciously and subliminally, send messages about the urgency of climate change. Megan Marks, our good pal from down under, spoke about Floating Land, an art installation festival held at Lake Cootharaba, Boreen Point, which is near Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. Floating Land festival is a seriously effective way of attracting a whole different audience by art and then exposes them to climate change and its impacts on these natural art installations.
And that’s it! After that round of presentations the conference wrapped itself up and people slowing left. All in all this conference has been an amazing experience, not just a learning and educational one but it’s given us an opportunity to meet people and make connections , all over the globe. We would both like to extend our thanks to the EIANZ, EnviroPartners and the Cavendish family. Without their generosity this conference and this once in a lifetime trip to Iceland would never have happened. Thankyou – times a trillion.
You can read more about Tess & Maia's adventure here: http://aycciniceland.wordpress.com/