On Thursday 10 February, all pupils in Year 9 along with pupils from partner schools joined Eton’s BeyondCOP21 Symposium. The day was filled with lectures and interactive opportunities, and all pupils finished the event with an improved understanding of climate change, the COP21 Summit, and plastic pollution. The Press Office asked Ludo C and Andrew M to tell us more about the day.

Etonians in Year 9 were split into four groups, each accompanied by partner school pupils. We attended talks by the Ocean Generation Charity and the Design Nature group as well as several individual speakers.

Later in the day, after snacks and lunch, groups gathered in Upper School where a variety of charities and environmental action organisations were hosting an interactive exhibition. Here, we learnt about the aims and actions of each organisation. The eco-friendly guacamole stand was especially popular!

One of the most memorable parts of the days was when we presented our own ideas to stop climate change and pollution. One Holyport pupil promoted the use of bamboo hairbrushes to stop plastic pollution, and Rohan B the need to use ‘our youth’ as a foundation on which to build improved attitudes towards the environment. Pupils from both schools definitely enjoyed this part of the day.

The biggest takeaway from the day was the idea that we, as pupils and the upcoming generation, have the power to effect change. In the words of the presenter from the Ocean Generation Charity, everyone must “speak up” and use their “individual voices” to contribute to this change. Added to this was the idea that we are currently at a turning point, and we must all look to make an individual effort.

After a day of environmentally crucial work, pupils from all schools were inspired and informed. Thank you to everyone involved.

You can read more about the work of the Beyond COP21 Symposium here, which are held globally to bring “school communities to the forefront of sustainable development action”.