Sara Nyberg, our #YCLalumni, is an experienced climate leader and has participated in different panels of discussions to give the perspective of the youth about climate change. On her latest event, she shared some insights with us that can inspire you all on the next time you have the chance too.
Sara, the floor is yours :)
ABOUT THE EVENT
On the 20-22nd of November, the conference G-STIC took place in Brussels, Belgium. G-STIC is an abbreviation for the Global Sustainable Technology and Innovation Conference and this year it was the third one ever held. The aim of the conference is to bring together different stakeholders, such as businesses, policymakers, researchers and innovators, to learn about and discuss different innovative technology solutions that can contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The main elements of the conference were keynote speeches, presentations, panel discussions, and in parallel there were different partner events and an exhibition of technological solutions from different countries.
HOW I GOT THERE
The reason why I participated was that I had heard about it from one of the (passionate) organisers earlier this year and since I’m studying environmental and energy engineering, I was very curious about the conference and eager to participate. I love to learn new things and to connect with new people in the field. In addition, I got in contact with the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UN-MGCY) who organised young people to attend the conference. That increased my interest since I knew I would not be the only young person and that I could hang out with them. They also looked for people to participate in a panel, so I wrote about my interest and was later on chosen to be part of a panel which was a part of the Youth Forum, organised by the UN-MGCY.
ABOUT THE PANEL
The overall theme of the panel discussion was about taking intergenerational equity into account when doing technology assessments. It was chosen because the G-STIC organisation has goal to develop a framework or guidelines for technology assessments, taking into account all the SDGs. As a part of this work, we as young people wanted to give
our perspective for developing these assessments.
The other people in the panel were Giulia Marzetti, active in Women@EIT and working in the e-mobility area, Mina Hanna, working with IEEE Tech Ethics which considers the ethical and social implications of technologies, and Emoke Peter, working on digital governance and ensuring fair and transparent elections. Some of the overall outcomes were:
(1) Technology assessments need to prioritize consideration of aspects such as gender, race, socioeconomic class, and culture; and (2) while a global framework can guide the creation of technology assessment methods, selection criteria must be tailored to context and technology type. The main points which I raised about technology assessments and intergenerational equity were that it’s important to have a long-term perspective. You should not only consider what benefits a technology gives us today, but also how it should be taken care of at the end of its lifetime. Because it’s we who are young today who will live more with the consequences of the decisions made and technologies adopted today. It’s also important to design products to last long, and they should be easy to repair and recycle. You can express this as that the products should be designed with circular thinking. In-built
“programs” in e.g. smartphones which make them function worse after a while are really bad. Secondly, when assessing technologies, it’s important not only to assess the use phase but the whole value chain from sourcing of materials to the end-of-life treatment. For example, life cycle assessments should be made for products.
So, how did I prepare, how was my experience and what did I learn?
Through my education in energy and environmental engineering and my engagement in climate and environmental issues for a long time, I could come up with some thoughts on the topic before, but I wanted to gather inputs from other young people as well. I had received proposed questions for the panel on beforehand, so I simply put them in a Google Document and asked people in my network, in the YCL internal communication platform and in YOUNGO, the youth constituency of the UNFCCC, to give inputs. I was very busy the days before, so I only shared it two days before the panel discussion. It would have been better to send it out earlier to get inputs from more people, but I got some inputs at least, which were useful. So, mentally I had prepared well, but when it came to preparing my 4-minute reply to the actual question which I would get (and which I received only the evening before), I just scribbled down some notes during the first part of the youth forum. It would of course have been better to prepare it earlier, but all the days before were very intense.
During the panel discussion, I felt quite calm though – even if I hadn’t been in a panel on such a large stage before. I tried to actively take some deep breaths, and I played theatre when I was young, so being on stage was not so new to me, and in addition, there were “only” 50 people in the audience. During the panel, it was although hard to focus on what the other panel members said – either because I was so focused on what I should say, or simply because I was tired, but it went well. Afterwards, a man came up to me and talked about hemp batteries – that was cool! Although, I missed out to talk off-stage with the other panel members. It would have been nice to get to know them and connect with them a bit more.
So hey, thanks for reading so far, and I hope this inspired you to participate in panels too!
You don’t have to be an expert in the exact topic – if you’re there to represent youth, you can just give your perspective. For example, I haven’t really done technology assessments, but I had a reasonable background anyway. Remember that it’s the first time for everyone at some point to e.g. participate in a panel, so you don’t need to wait to take the opportunity.
If you’re nervous about making mistakes and there are some “cool”/ famous people in the
panel or audience – don’t worry! It is human to make mistakes and also the “cool” people
are just humans as well, who themselves are nervous when they present and can make
The last point out before you go: you learn a lot when you step out of your comfort zone! Be courageous and just do it! When you know that you are capable of e.g participate in a small panel discussion – after that you have broadened your comfort zone and can stretch it even further. Step by step you can learn to talk in front of even larger audiences, or in more serious situations, and just the sky is the limit!
About Sara: Besides being a YCL Alumni, Sara studied environmental and energy engineering at Lund University in Sweden. She also works at South Pole with greenhouse gas accounting. She is involved in the environmental movement for 8 years. Since 2017 she is very involved in the Swedish youth sustainability network, PUSH Sweden, both on a national level and in the international group. Connect with her.