The World Student Environmental Network (WSEN) Summit 2016 kicked-off on Sunday June 24th. With the other 75 delegates from more than 20 countries, oikos, represented by Anita Negri, was also invited.
Upon arrival participants engaged in ice breakers, reflection sessions and even a singing lesson at the new Attenborough Centre at the University of Sussex. Dinner was then served by a start-up that produces meals from food that would otherwise have gone to waste. For dinner it was curry and rice. An informal gathering was then initiated but with most participants having travelled from far, most made it back to their rooms early.
On the first full day of the conference, a typical English breakfast dish was served: porridge accompanied by many fair-trade nuts and responsibly-sourced muesli bars. The first session was a keynote talk by Andrea Cornwall, professor at the University of Sussex. Ms. Cornwall considers herself an activist bureaucrat and gave an interesting talk to participants about methodologies of being activists and techniques for raising youth voices. This was by all found to be a challenge of a youth sector, often, under-represented. The rest of the morning was dedicated to presentation sessions where delegates presented their sustainability projects from around the world. Lunch followed.
Immediately after lunch it was time for the international organisations’ panel discussion. With four organisation: oikos, NUS UK, WSEN and Commonwealth Youth, the panel took off by noting participants’ expectations. Panellists then presented their organisations, their values and their sustainability practices. These brief inputs were followed by a lively discussion on youth engagement, the issue of communication and international cooperation. The audience was, finally, split into four groups with each discussing a challenge in sustainability organisations. The afternoon continued with 6 parallel workshops on sustainability careers and sustainability in the workplace.
On Tuesday 26th July, the oikos representation left the conference despite the fact that the Summit would continue for 4 more days. Anita stated: “Having been part of the energy at the WSEN re-confirmed what I often observe in oikos: investing in bringing truly passionate people about sustainability physically together, can be very inspiring. I was amazed by the quality of contribution and engagement of the participants despite the long days that were planned. This makes it much more interesting for panellists to share experience and understand what areas to contribute to. My wish is, for all conference, that participants will have taken away important lessons to implement, directly, once back in their hometowns. Sustainability is not an easy mind-set but my participation to most international youth conferences on sustainability over the past years makes me want to remind all society that: youth is here, we are executing quality initiatives, even with small resources, we are raising our voices and we don’t intend to give up. Let’s keep walking the talk and great things will occur for the world as a whole, because sustainability is an collaborative matter”.
See what more went on at the WSEN Summit by following the hashtag #WSEN2016 on social media.