Blog Series: SDG 1 – The Battle Against Poverty

This week’s guest blog comes second in a series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the SDGs.  

Poverty in all its forms everywhere is, according to the United Nations (UN), stating that it is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. The good news is that the amount of people living in extreme poverty has relatively decreased from 28 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2013. The bad news, however, is that over 896 million people are still living with less than $1.90 per day, mainly within South-Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (1). Poverty goes beyond the lack of financial resources; it reflects a lack of opportunities, which are often linked to education, healthcare, discrimination and hunger.

 

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice”

Nelson Mandela

 

 

The Targets: Eradicating Poverty and Creating Social Security

The seven SDG targets that aim to diminish poverty by 2030 include both a financial and a social dimension. A distinction is made between extreme poverty measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day and general poverty measured according to national definitions. Whereas extreme poverty must be overcome completely, general poverty must be halved. On a national level, the targets are three-fold: strengthening the resilience of the poor, particularly in cases of natural disasters; implementing social policies that protect citizen against poverty and; creating equal rights and access to economic resources and services. On an international level, the targets press states to actively mobilize resources that can combat poverty and to create policies that target and benefit the poorest.

Progress? Measuring Regional Inequality

Without measurements there is no knowledge of progress. In the previous blog, I explained that each goal is broken down in targets which are measured by indicators. The UN created a database which tracks down how each country is currently doing on each indicator. Have a look around yourself as this database is accessible for everyone (2). Looking at the data, the general trend seems to be that regional inequality is on the rise. Let’s zoom in on social security, which is crucial to battle poverty. A total of 45 percent of the world’s population has access to at least one type of social insurance. A simple comparison illustrates the imbalance: in Western Europe this percentages is 99, whereas in West Africa it is merely 9 percent.

 

Oxfam and the UN: Business against poverty

There are countless projects that intend to contribute towards SDG 1, but as I specialise in business I would like to focus on the partnership between Oxfam and the UN (3). This partnership aims to make companies aware of their positive and negative impact on local poverty. To accomplish this, they created the so-called ‘poverty footprint’. Through this online tool, companies can begin to understand how they affect poverty and adjust their business operations accordingly. A company that completed the poverty footprint is Unilever. They concluded that by offering more part-time instead of full-time jobs at their manufacture site in Kecap Bango, more people would be helped out of poverty in this Indonesian region. Thus, by measuring their influence on poverty, companies are urged to find innovative solutions.

The situation in Europe

Eurostat, the statistics centre of the European Union (EU), shows that in 2016 over 118 million people were at risk of poverty or social inclusion (see the Figure below). There is a wide disparity within the EU. To illustrate, in Bulgaria almost 42 percent of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In comparison, in Sweden this percentage is only 14. Furthermore, 36 percent of Greek people live below the national poverty line and 19 percent of Romanian people that are employed still live in poverty. In the UK, child poverty is taking a worrisome number; about 4 million children are classified as poor.

 

 

 

The Fund of Urgent Needs in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, where I am originally from, does not know extreme poverty. Nonetheless, 10 percent of Dutch citizens live under the national poverty line of 33 euro per day. An organization within the Netherlands that aims to tackle local poverty is the Fund of Urgent Needs (SUN). My mother is the location manager in my home-town Leiden, where SUN offers financial aid to people that are in danger of falling between two stools. She explains that: “our foundation gives to the inhabitant of Leiden, who are in an urgent financial situation and do not apply for governmental help”.

What can you do in the fight against poverty?

The traditional way of donating money is, for the low-budget students, not always a possibility – nor might it be the most effective route. Luckily, there are other ways: you can volunteer at existing programmes, such as Child Poverty Action Group, Oxfam, foodbanks or ONE, or develop your own project at King’s. As poverty is rooted in various related problems, you can think about projects improving general live conditions as well. For example, become a reading helper for children at BeanStalk – with only a few hours a week you can ensure a child can read, grow and thrive!

 

References:

  1. More statistics, data and information on this goal can be found here.
  2. If you want to play a bit around with the target data on country level, you can either go to UNSTAT or the SDG index.
  3. Read more on the poverty footprint at Oxfam’s or the UN’s respectively websites.
  4. Unfortunately, in Dutch, but if you want to learn more about the situation in the Netherlands click here and for the foundation of urgent needs here.

Student Halls Re-Use Scheme

This year, to support King’s in our sustainability strategy and our goal to recycle 70% of our non-hazardous waste by 2019-20, King’s Residences have once again partnered with Better Re-use  to help manage waste generated by students leaving halls of residence for the summer. Better Re-use successfully saved anything from used furniture to bedding and electrical items from going to landfill, allowing these things to live out second lives through partnerships with Oxfam, Shelter and other charitable organisations across London.

How It Worked

Over 13 collections, and with the great assistance and enthusiasm of all Residence Managers, staff, cleaners, volunteers and students involved, Better Re-use collected waste from  our four directly managed halls of residence: Stamford Street, Great Dover Street, Wolfson House and Champion Hill. They then sorted, weighed and arranged the distribution of the materials collected.

Great Results

The partnership was a huge success. This was down to two main factors. First, better communication with students on how to deal with their waste on departure directly led to the substantial quantities gathered. Secondly, our partnership with Better Re-use allowed the re-distribution of duvets, pillows and carbon dense materials that were previously difficult to divert from landfill.

Particular progress was made at Great Dover Street, where more awareness was created via communications from the King’s Residences team. The hall contributed an additional 34% over 2017. Better Re-use estimates that 362 students engaged with the scheme, approx. 23% of total leavers. On average, 2.06kg of waste was received from each student (a 32% increase) and collections overall were up 10%.

 

The Figures

Across the four residences, King’s managed to divert 3,261 kg from landfill – a 10% increase from 2017, diverting 37,611kg CO2e – a 20% increase on the year. This represents a 99% re-use rate, with nothing going to landfill.

 

 

Where Did It All Go?

The re-usable goods collected from our students went to support a variety of charities, including:

Fara (http://www.faracharity.org/)

A charity which supports orphans and vulnerable or neglected children in Romania, providing education, employment training, healing of past trauma and most of all a loving family.

Shelter London (https://england.shelter.org.uk/)

Which works with people suffering bad housing or homelessness.

Bright Sparks Islington (http://directory.islington.gov.uk/kb5/islington/directory/service.page?id=6gvCBq_6XQQ)

Which diverted reusable furniture, small electrical items and bric-a-brac, providing jobs and volunteering opportunities for the socially excluded, or people looking to get back into work.

St Mungo’s East London (https://www.mungos.org/)

Works directly with people who are sleeping rough or in hostels and helping them to rebuild their lives and fulfill their ambitions.

Oxfam (https://www.oxfam.org.uk/)

Oxfam was able to put most of the clothing items up for resale in their shops, while other dirty or damaged clothing items went to their central sorting warehouse to be sent either to shops or to Oxfam projects abroad.

Oxfam said:

The effort that the King’s Residence teams have put into making this a success is amazing, and we look forward to seeing the figures for next year’s big summer clear out!

Blog Series: 1- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Will You Help Build A Better World?

This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, a second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).  

The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability.

The Sustainable Development Goals:
17 Goals to Transform the World by 2030

“This is no plan B because there is no planet B”, are the famous words of Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN). In 2015, the agenda for sustainable development was set by the UN member states. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a collective action plan concerning sustainable social, economic, and ecological advancement for everyone. The aim is to leave no one behind. In this article, I will briefly introduce you to the goals in general. In the upcoming months I hope to familiarize you with each individual goal by writing seventeen separate articles on them.

The 2030 agenda

The SDGs take over the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were effective from 2000 to 2015. The MDGs contributed to halving child mortality and lifting more than a billion people out of extreme poverty, to name but a few examples. Nevertheless, they did not tackle the root causes of underdevelopment. One of the reasons was that the MGDs Goals were only focused on developing countries and at providing developmental aid and assistance. The goals encompass broad social objectives targeted at governments but without measurement tools to evaluate process. The SDGs, on the other hand, target all countries and concern overall investments. They cover a combination of social, economic, and ecological goals targeted at the whole world population and with measurement mechanisms.

17 goals, 169 targets, and 232 indicators

The 17 goals cannot, and should not, be understood as separate entities; the success of one goal is closely related to the achievement of the other goals. The goals are broad and ambitious in their scope. For example, the first goal objective is that nobody should live in poverty by 2030 (“zero poverty”). Each goal is broken down in several targets. The overall 169 targets give the global goals more substance and depth. They specify the various aspects that constitute the goals and indicate when the goal is successfully achieved in 2030. As an example, one of the targets that specifies the first goal refers to the fact that the amount of people in extreme poverty must be halved in 2030. One important improvement is that these targets can then be measured through accurate and dynamic data. The overall 232 indicators link existing datasets to the targets to facilitate the measurement, and evaluation, of progress. To measure is to know!

The Global Goals in your backyard

Under the title “Global Goals”, several organisations around the world are organising events and actions to create awareness of the SDGs and to mobilise people to contribute to the accomplishment of the goals. These events are diverse and differ in scale. Worldwide, there are various events around the subject how to make the SDGs “local business”. In the UK context, the UN Global Compact Network UK organizes the SDG Roadshow, which focuses on how businesses can align their strategies with the SDGs (1). Furthermore, in London Fashion United, a leading fashion trade event, has recently launched the “Power of One”. Through this campaign they aim to raise awareness for the Global Goals and in particularly for ethical and sustainable fashion.

 

The Sustainable Development Goals are also for you!

What encompasses these 17 goals precisely? How are we progressing? Who contributes towards their achievement? What can I do?

During an internship for the United Nations in 2016, I was responsible to find answer to these questions and communicate them to various people. I observed that although everyone is convinced of the importance of the SDGs, they often get stuck in the web of goals, targets and indicators. Meanwhile, I have started working on my PhD at King’s College London and have noticed that there is quite a bit of uncertainty on the SDGs amongst students.

To contribute to a better world, I want to make the SDGs more concrete and accessible for you. To do so, I will write an article about every goal in which I explain what the specific goal means and sketch the current situation. I will give examples of initiatives addressing the specific goal and suggests ways for you to contribute as well. Will you help to build a better world?

 

References

  • Want to know more on the SDG roadshow? You can visit their website here.
  • You can read more on the Power of One here.

6 Tips For A Less Trashy Term Time #DontBeTrashy

This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Ray Hopkinson, Project Coordinator at Hubbub. Hubbub is an environmental charity which works on engaging the public on social and environmental sustainability issues using a fresh approach to communicate with the public. As part of her role, Ray has worked with a number of companies to reduce food waste, for example, on Sainsbury’s ‘Waste Warriors’ initiative.

The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability.

6 Tips for a Less Trashy Term Time

September always makes me a bit nostalgic for the start of a new academic year and those heady days of fresher’s week, new mates, and a world of possibilities. Whether you’re heading off to student halls, a shared house or left university some time ago and are dreaming of those good-old days, these tips will help you save money and time and reduce rubbish around the home. Some of you will be keen for your new home to be as green as possible, but might find it a bit hard to get others on board and do it in a way that is fun and basically doesn’t kill the vibe! So if you want to win the war on rubbish, stay popular and have a good time, read on:

 

  • Plan- Think about your meals in advance. Try batch-cooking and use the leftovers for lunch or a quick meal another day. Batch cooking makes it easy to use up any veg, making it less likely to hang around and go mouldy (bringing your own lunch can also save you serious money in the canteen). The good news, is that leftovers taste even better the next day, and you’ll be really surprised how much you can save weekly and put towards your going out budget.

 

  • Communal Cooking- Coordinate meals and shopping with your house mates.  Share a fruit and vegetable box or cook a meal for everyone.  University can be lonely, but cooking a meal for your housemates or having friends over for dinner can be a great distraction to feeling homesick.

 

  • Skip the Takeaway- Takeaway meals can really eat up your budget and generate lots of single-use waste. Not to worry, we’ve re-created England’s favourite take-away recipes for you to make at home. These are both healthier and significantly cheaper than the late night takeout alternatives.

 

  • Don’t Put Money Down the Drain- Our bathroom regimes are responsible for 30 to 40 per cent of rubbish dumped in to the ground, so try swapping the shower gel for a much cheaper and longer lasting bar of soap, and you might also find that it doesn’t get used up by your housemates, bonus! There are lots of simple ways to make your own face masks, hair masks and even shampoo and it’s a great activity to do with your flat mates to help you relax after a stressful day.

 

  • Its Bulking Season- A simple but effective way to consume less is to buy (non-perishable) items in bulk or buy items that can be refilled. More and more shops are doing this now such as Unpackaged or if you’re looking for refills try Ecover. Here’s an extensive list of bulk stores across the UK.

 

  • Make Do and Mend- Read our top tips for giving your clothes a new lease of life. We all have a favourite pair of jeans that has one too many holes. It’s not (sew) difficult to mend your clothes, and much cheaper than buying new ones. Alternatively, if you’re bored with your wardrobe you can organise a clothes swap party. Most dry cleaners will replace a zip or do alterations but if anything is broken beyond repair make sure to take it to your nearest household recycling centre, where almost everything can be recycled.  You could also get inventive and give them a new use, e.g. rags from old t-shirts anyone?

 

Got some tips of your own? Get in touch using #DontBeTrashy and let us know how you’re getting on.

#DontBeTrashy is a collaboration between Kings’ College London and Hubbub to trial different techniques to encourage students to reduce their household waste and boost recycling rates in residences. Join the conversation on social media using #DontBeTrashy or download our handy Reuse Kit ‘How-to guide’ here for more helpful tips.

Widening Participation taste-test plant milks

This week, the King’s Widening Participation team taste-tested a range of plant-based milks during a team breakfast. Their line-up included ‘milks’ like coconut milk and hazelnut milk, and staff tried them in their cereal, coffee and tea.

And the winner for the best taste was…

Hazelnut milk !

While all plant milks got good reviews from the team, hazelnut milk was the runaway favourite, especially in coffee.

If this has made you want to try a plant milk in your coffee this weekend, the great news is that these ‘milks’ are not only tasty, but they also save carbon emissions and water. Happy tasting!

 

Cycle to Work Day

Wednesday 15 August is Cycle to Work Day, an annual celebration of cycling. The aim is to get people to cycle to work for at least one day, and encourage people who might not have cycled before to see how brilliant it can be. Pledge to cycle to work and win prizes!

To help you on Cycle to Work day we’ve put together some helpful hints and tips:

Before you ride

Plan your route: You can download brilliant apps like CycleStreets, which have been specially designed to plan the best routes for cyclists. You can choose your route based on whether you want quick, balanced or quieter routes, and they will even tell you how much CO2 you’ve avoided. Beware of using Google Maps, it can often give you the quickest routes, but might also send you down a busy motorway!

Take a class: Your local council will normally organise free cycling skills classes from beginner skills to practising out on the road and even cycling at night.

Track your ride: There are a multitude of apps you can use to track your ride from Strava and MapMyRide which can tell you everything from how many calories you’ve burnt, to how you compare to fellow cyclists in your area. Remember to link your fitness app to King’s Move to get rewards whenever you exercise.

Have the proper gear: Make sure you are wearing a helmet and protective clothing. Have lights on the front and back of your bike, especially when cycling at night and in winter.

On the road

Follow the rules of the road – don’t be tempted to run red lights, even if there is no one there.

Keep your eyes and ear open – Look to your left and right whenever you turn. Don’t wear headphones, hearing is crucial when you’re cycling.

If there isn’t a bike lane, stick to the middle of the road – don’t be afraid to make yourself big on the road, it’s much more dangerous to be cycling in the gutter.

Be careful on turns – never undertake, especially on turns. Large vehicles won’t be able to see you.

Once you’ve arrived

Park your bike securely: Check online to see where you can park your bike at King’s.

Need a shower? King’s has shower facilities at all our campuses.

 

Plastic free July 2018: what does it take to give up single use plastics?

The following guest blog comes courtesy of Sarah Bailey. Sarah is the Science Liaison, Public Engagement and Communications Manager for the Department  of Twin Research as well as their Sustainability Champion.

For those in the know, July is all about plastic free living. The challenge to ditch plastic for a month, run by the Marine Conservation Society in the UK, has gathered momentum as awareness about plastic pollution has increased.

I attempted Plastic Free July in 2017 but failed miserably. I thought I’d got everything covered, until a friend pointed out on day two that, yes, my toothpaste, moisturiser and shampoo all count as single use plastics. And that was just the tip of a plastic-shaped iceberg.

A year later, I decided I was going to give it a proper attempt. Would I make it through the month? What problems would I encounter? Would I become so desperate for sticky toffee pudding and cream one hungry evening that I’d forsake all my hard work?

Since 2017 I’d already started using a few plastic free alternatives, so I didn’t think it would be too much effort to make the final changes needed. But, of course, things aren’t ever quite that straightforward.

Firstly, there’s the cost. Bulk buy items are more expensive than their plastic wrapped counterparts, so I didn’t immediately replace all my store cupboard items. Loose fruit and veg are also pricey, though I didn’t falter and reach for the plastic covered stuff. Plastic free toilet roll is extortionate, so much so I didn’t even consider buying it.

Some things are just hard to buy plastic free. Cheese is one example, and boy, do I love cheese. My local cheese shop did put my purchases in paper bags, but when it’s cut from a big block wrapped in cling film it seems to miss the point. Yoghurt is a tough one too, but you can easily make your own.

There were some unexpected twists, of course. My Lush deodorant left me with a painful rash after a week of use, sending me back to my regular plastic-covered brand, and getting to the bar at a busy pub after an evening at the cricket resulted in a pint in a plastic cup. Sigh.

 

                                               Sarah’s plastic free swaps

It’s not all doom and gloom though; whilst many plastic free alternatives aren’t cheap, they do last a long time. My well-used first shampoo bar lasted six months, and my weird, grey, but utterly delicious Truthpaste will last me a while too.

There are also plenty of changes I’ve made very easily and will stick to. My shampoo bars, metal safety razor, ecoffee cup and shopping bags are all here to stay. Milk deliveries are oh-so-convenient, meaning I definitely won’t go back to plastic-covered milk.

I’ll keep shopping at my local fishmongers who give discounts for bringing your own containers, and I’ll even keep buying (some) bulk buy items from my nearest zero waste shop. Loose leaf tea from my local tea shop is also a winner; how I’ve missed using a teapot!

Living plastic free takes a lot of planning, at least at first. In our age of convenience, doing a weekly food shop is from a bygone age. There’s also a certain amount of willpower needed (Did I cave and buy sticky toffee pudding and cream one evening? Yes, yes I did), and the acceptance that for now, at least, plastic alternatives often cost more.

One thing’s for certain though; plastic pollution won’t go away with consumer action alone. I’ll keep doing what I can, and hopefully more people will too, but what’s urgently needed is action from legislators and manufacturers to remove single use, non-recyclable and non-biodegradable plastics from our shelves, for good.

King’s is an accredited Living Wage Employer

We are happy to say that King’s has officially become an accredited Living Wage Employer. Our commitment to paying our staff members the London Living Wage is an integral part of Vision 2029’s Service Pillar, demonstrating our commitment to society and our staff.

While King’s has been paying the London Living Wage since 2014, we have only just been made an accredited Living Wage Employer.

What is the Living Wage?

The Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is based on living costs. While the government introduced its own ‘national living wage’ rate for staff over 25 years of age in April 2016, this was not actually calculated against what employees and their families need to live.

The real Living Wage is paid by over 4,400 UK business who believe in ensuring that their employees receive fair pay and can afford to live on that pay. For London there is a separate rate taking into account higher living costs in the capital.

What does it mean to be an accredited Living Wage Employer?

Being an accredited Living Wage Employer means that King’s is committed to paying the real Living Wage to all our directly employed staff. In addition, King’s ensures that are on-site contractors, such as cleaners, are paid the London Living Wage.  King’s is also committed to annual pay increases linked to the cost of living.

What does it mean for staff members?

Not only does it ensure that staff members earn enough to live on, accreditation has many other benefits:

  • 75% of current accredited employers say it has increased motivation and retention rates for employees
  • 58% say that is improved relations between managers and their staff
  • 86% say that is has improved the reputation of the business

We’re happy to say that King’s is committed to ensure that it’s staff members receive a fair, liveable wage.

King’s Sustainability Awards 2018

It’s been a busy year and last week on 10 July we had the pleasure of celebrating the achievements of everyone who has been actively involved in sustainability over the past year here at King’s.

The annual King’s Sustainability Awards ceremony took place at Bush House and we celebrated the passion and commitment of the 235 Sustainability Champions who have carried out 1,950 sustainability actions, nearly 500 more than the previous year.

45 Sustainability Champion Teams were awarded: 16 Bronze, 11 Silver and 18 Gold Awards.


We also celebrated with Special Awards for other staff and students from across the university who have worked to embed sustainability across operations, teaching and the wider King’s community.

Working Towards Gold: 1st Floor James Black Center Labs
Best at Recruiting New Champions: Cardiology, Pharmacy Teaching
Outstanding Achievement: 5th Floor JCMB, The Dickson Poon School of Law
Supporting King’s Food in the Sustainable Restaurant Association: Ali Hepple & Izzy Brayshaw
Supporting the Analysis of Sustainability Data: Analytics
Commitment to Embedding Sustainability: Operational Assurance
Commitment to Sustainability: Bouygues, CIS, Procurement, Servest
Commitment to Waste Reduction and Re-Use (via Warp It): Bush House Project Team
Commitment to Sustainability as Energy Champions: Abdul Lateef, Graham Camplin, Kurosh Bastani, Nick Gouveia
Consistently Achieving Highest Monthly Recycling Rates: King’s Sport
Commitment to Sustainable Campus Refurbishment: Natalie Littleson
Working to Embed Sustainability in Capital Development: Olga Ezquieta
Commitment to Implementing Sustainable Lab Practices: Oliver Austen
Commitment to Sustainability & Wellbeing: Robert Staton
Most Improved Recycling Rates: Stamford Street Apartments
Commitment to Biodiversity: Stuart Bailey
Going Above & Beyond: Library Services

Sustainability Awards 2018 – Staff and student champions

Serve to shape and transform

We welcomed Professor Jonathan Grant, Vice President & Vice Principal (Service) who thanked all involved for being the ones to motivate others and to stand up and make a difference to the environment and our local communities around King’s.  ‘Service’ is the term we adopted at King’s in our Strategic Vision 2029 to describe our commitment to society beyond the traditional roles of education and research. Professor Grant shared details of the King’s Service Strategy framework and explained that the Sustainability Champions are an integral part of the framework.   The Service Strategy framework will be launched and celebrated on 19 July and all King’s staff and students are welcome to attend.

Sustainability is important to our students

As part of the event we celebrated our students who’ve been involved with a video showcasing their actions over the past year which includes working with King’s Food as Sustainable Food Assistants, auditing our Sustainability Champions teams, taking part in Student Switch Off actions and competitions in King’s Residences, working as Sustainable Food Assistants and running social enterprises such as Zest and Fetch Ur Veg- who offer weekly organic veg box deliveries.

National Sustainability Awards

We saved a surprise for Awards day and our Library Sustainability Champions teams found out  that they had been nominated as finalists at the national EAUC Green Gown Awards, recognising the impact that they have had by making the libraries more sustainable for both staff and students. This year we now have 3 finalists at the Green Gown Awards, including Widening Participation’s Parent Power project and King’s Food for their work on ditching disposables.

THANK YOU

Thank you once again to everyone who has helped us make a difference here at King’s this year. The efforts of all those involved really do add up and help to achieve our university sustainability targets. Achievements this year include:

  • 30% carbon reduction achieved (by July 2017) which is keeping us on track to achieve the 43% carbon reduction goal by 2020 (2017/18 figures will be shared once available)
  • Improving waste recycling rates by nearly 10%
  • Reusing furniture and equipment internally at King’s – saving it from disposal and saving £96k in 2017/18
  • 36 events held by staff and students in Sustainability Week and Reduce Waste Week

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Sustainability Champion contact the Sustainability Team at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

Training as a Climate Reality Leader

Hello from Maria from the King’s Sustainability team! For today’s blog, I wanted to share an exciting event I attended over the last three days.

This week, I attended the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps Training. The three day event is organised by the Climate Reality Project, founded by former US Vice President Al Gore. Its aim is to train people from all over the world to be leaders in the fight against climate change, and the training events were featured in 2017’s ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’.

In Berlin, over 600 new Climate Reality Leaders were trained over three days. The days included a number of presentations and panel debates on climate change and issues around it. As the first day of the training coincided with the first meeting of the German Coal Commission, coal was one of the key themes during the event. A panel on how Germany – and the rest of Europe – can leave coal behind in favour of renewables included an emotional account from a citizen whose village is due to make way for an expanding coal mine. You can read more about Germany’s disappearing villages here. Despite the need for Europe to move away from coal, another panel acknowledged the challenges countries relying on coal for energy face in their transition. Many European countries will need to look at how they can turn their economy around while ensuring former coal industry workers are ready to move into jobs in other industries.

One highlight of the training was to see Al Gore present his now famous slide deck on the climate crisis and its solutions. For over two hours, he explained the science behind climate change, the impact it has on the world right now – and will likely have in the future – and the solutions that already exist. While countless images of environmental destruction and disasters around the world may make it seem like there is no hope, recent developments in renewable energy show that it is not too late to change our path. For example, in June 2017 Scotland sourced 100% of its electricity from wind power for a whole month, and countries around the world are scaling up their solar capacity. In the UK, countless local authorities have pledged to go 100% renewable in the future. Hope was a defining theme of the training, with presenters and panellists reminding the trainees that it is possible to tackle the climate crisis.

A particularly inspiring moment showing changing attitudes was during a Q&A session on the climate crisis presentation. When the audience was asked to raise their hand if they do not own a car, the majority of the room raised their hand. You can see a picture of this moment here.

As a now newly trained Climate Reality Leader, I am excited to go out and campaign on climate change. Climate Reality Leaders are asked to complete Acts of Leadership following their training, which can include anything from giving a presentation to writing a letter to their elected representatives. The Leadership Corps is also a thriving community, with regional and local chapters organising meetings, and assisting and mentoring one another to tackle climate change together. This community element was also central to the three days of training, with each of us encouraged to meet and connect with fellow Climate Reality Leaders from around the world. It was inspiring to see so many people from different industries and all ages coming together to solve one big challenge!

If this has inspired you to become a Climate Reality Leader yourself, you can follow Climate Reality on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming trainings. The next one is due to take place in Los Angeles in August, with applications open now.

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