International climate conference inspires young campaigners

  • Elouise Hobbs

Young campaigners - image Fr Martin Poulsom

Young campaigners - image Fr Martin Poulsom

From 28 August - 3 September, young climate campaigners from 10 countries gathered in Staffordshire to share stories of how their local communities have acted to tackle climate change and to create initiatives to help others get involved. More than 50 youth climate campaigners representing three continents attended the 'Our Common Home' residential - an international climate action workshop, organised jointly by charities CIDSE and CAFOD.

In addition to cultural activities and upcycling workshops, there were sessions led by climate scientist Dr Adam Levy and Theology, Ecology and Ethics professor, Dr Martin Poulsom.

Giorgio Gotra, a member of CIDSE from Brussels, attended the workshop at Alton Castle retreat centre in Staffordshire. He explained why he got involved: "As Pope Francis is telling us, we need to take time to reflect on our lifestyle and our relationship with the environment. At the 'Our Common Home' retreat, we reflected a lot and were able to put into practice what the Pope shared with Laudato Si', his 2015 document on the environment."

Among the attendees on the retreat were climate campaigners from across the UK, many of who had travelled with CAFOD to attend the UN climate talks 'COP24' in Poland last December, and are active in their local communities promoting local and political climate action.

"For me, the workshop highlighted the good work that people, and young people especially, are doing to protect our common home," said Emma Gallagher, a young campaigner from Woking who attended the conference.

"I think the current political climate not only distracts the government from acting wholeheartedly on climate change but also distracts us in society of the positive relationships that exist simultaneously."

The group spent time reflecting on the role of local action to inspire a wider shift in attitudes and how different types of leadership can encourage social change.

They also attended workshops on how to take effective political action, and all made action plans to implement over the next year.

Emma concluded: "It seems like we are all divided all of the time and the retreat bridged these divides, as well as highlighting how there is a wonderful group of individuals determined in acting, protecting the earth, and I'm sure will be inspirational leaders in times to come."

"At times, with the scientific statistics and businesses continuing to damage the environment, looking forward seems a bit dire. And whilst we didn't solve climate change, the retreat did leave me with hope for the future."

Find out how to campaign with CAFOD at:

Tags: Environment, CAFOD, Dr Martin Poulsom, CIDSE, Alton Castle retreat centre

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