Cyprus is hosting one of the 20 Climate-KIC Journeys taking place this summer. Because of challenges caused by climate change and the country’s booming entrepreneurship environment, this host country is ready to convert Journey participants into 'Change Agents’ at once. Stelios Yiatros, Education Lead at EIT Climate-KIC Cyprus gave us his insight on the value that the Journey - residential summer school - adds to the country and businesses.
Located at the South-Eastern front of the European Union, Cyprus experiences climate change first hand; longer and warmer summers, prolonged droughts and dust storms coming from North Africa and the Middle East. Stelios said: “Working with such an inspiring group of people towards such an important task is ex-tremely inspiring because the stakes are high! We need to educate and inspire young professionals to inno-vate climate solutions.”
The latest CEO survey undertaken by PwC Cyprus (2019), showed that climate change is the fourth most important threat to local companies and their profitability. Companies and startups also play an important role by introducing the participants to new business models and how to adapt to climate change. “Every year, we aim to have founders and employees from relevant startups and companies to join the Journey for input and advice to the future generation of business leaders”, he said.
Building the local community of climate leaders is an important part of the Journey experience in Cyprus. Stelios explained that the participants from last year took part in climate and innovation activities long after the Journey ended: “The Limassol Journey of 2018 created a very enthusiastic community of talented, young individuals. They became so inspired by Climate-KIC that 13 out of 40 participants joined the Climate-Launchpad Grand Final in Edinburgh in November 2018, either as participants or as volunteers. This is an amazing outcome!” Thus, other than learning innovative ways and tools to tackle climate change, joining the Journey Community is another benefit of taking part in this summer school. Stelios has been supporting the Journey the last three years and has experienced how the participants keep in touch and develop their busi-ness ideas.
Previous examples of climate change innovation include the Climate4Business initiative that helped over 50 SMEs in Cyprus to calculate baseline carbon emissions and to develop action plans. Stelios explained that this is a project led by Climate-KIC and the Federation of Industrialists and Employers: “By getting the companies to take a stand on their carbon emissions, the project is creating awareness about the companies’ responsi-bility and the tools and methods they can use to address these issues.”
Finally, Stelios also gave us a teaser on what participants can look forward to this summer. This summer, participants will experience several initiatives happening right now in Cyprus: “Journey participants will get a taste of the initiatives we have been working on, for example, sustainable historic urban districts, circular economy thinking in the construction sector, and collaboration with clean-tech startups in energy saving, food security and renewables.” He expects that participants will get a unique insight on how Cyprus is taking action through climate innovation and for many Journey participants, this will be the first step to becoming an agent of change to trigger climate action.
Three months ago, a group of engineering students at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) came together to discuss actions on how to mitigate and adapt to climate change on campus. A few weeks ago, this initial brainstorming meeting culminated in a Climate Week at the university campus. The goal of the week was to raise awareness about climate change and strengthen the community engaged in environmental issues at the university.
An initial idea of a movie projection to raise awareness on climate change was discussed among a handful of students in late winter. Some of these students were EIT Climate-KIC Master Label students, who had also participated in the Climate-KIC Journey the summer before. But instead of going ahead with their idea of a movie projection, they decided to call for a meeting to give students the same mindset an opportunity to join the planning. Around thirty students welcomed this chance and showed up to the gathering, and that is how a lunch meeting between a group of students at the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby evolved into something bigger.
Climate Action DTU is a student-led organisation with the common goal of taking action and fighting climate change. The recently formed group currently has a focus on small scale projects that can be implemented on the DTU campus area, but ideas are already in place to extend their reach by collaborating with other universities in the region. Many of the organisation’s projects are related to waste and how resources can be used more efficiently. One project, for instance, aims to implement organic bins in the library and another is focused on developing a Recycling Bible, a user-friendly manual for making waste sorting clearer. While these projects might seem like small steps to take, they can result in something much bigger.
“Big impact will come from people. We need to start from individually taking responsibility on the way we act in order to take care of the environment”
says Tamara Perez Guillemette, a chemical and biochemical engineering student at DTU. “The members of our group come from very different pathways, but we all share the same values and have one common goal”, she continues.
The various backgrounds of the people in the organisation is seen as a vital strength. The group has received a lot of valuable input from a variety of perspectives, which has helped to serve as the backbone when creating Climate Action DTU. The strong international community of students at the university helped to create and push the group in the beginning, but the interest and activity in the group’s work is increasing as the word-of-mouth is spread across campus.
“The idea of protecting the climate and fighting for it is an idea that everyone can have, and in Denmark, people have this mindset, to begin with”, says Paul Didier, an acoustic engineering student.
Cooperation across campus
There has been a number of administration aspects to consider when implementing the various projects of the group, which has been a challenge the group has had to overcome. However, the administration at DTU has been very supportive and interested in the groups work, and they have readily informed the group on sustainability measures already being taken on campus. One of the bigger projects the group is currently working on with the administration is including re-usable coffee cups in the goodie-bag all new students receive at the introduction week at the university.
Another prime example of students and staff working together is the engagement of university professors at the Climate Week in giving talks at various sessions. Many of these professors have already shown a keen interest to participate in future events. This sense of community is essential for Climate Action DTU, as knowledge sharing, communication and cooperation between the administration, staff and students is necessary when tackling big issues such as climate change.
Now that the Climate Week has come to a close, the group is turning their attention forward in order to structure the group’s processes so the next generation of students can carry on and develop the groundwork that has been done by the founding members of the group. Today, they are focused on setting up a clear structure for the organisation, incorporating their ground values of tolerance and respect as well as putting forth suggestions on how to provide an inclusive space for discussions, creation of ideas and the setting up of various projects.
Providing tools for the future
When the discussion turns towards the future, the students feel that their experiences with creating Climate Action DTU will help carry on the mindset of doing something about issues they encounter. There is also a consensus that both the Technical University of Denmark and EIT Climate-KIC have, through their focus on educating a new generation of change makers, supported the students in their ideas of creating a community focused on fighting climate change.
Tamara and Anjila Hjalsted both participated in the EIT Climate-KIC Journey last summer and are currently enrolled in the Climate-KIC Master Label programme. Both the Journey and the Label are focused on climate innovation and designed to deepen and extend students’ knowledge in the fields of climate change, innovation and business.
“The Journey and the Label Programme have given us some very specific tools on how to facilitate projects, such as the world café concept, brainstorming exercises, reflections etc.”
– Anjila Hjalsted, an engineering student at DTU.
Particularly the Journey has a strong focus on reflection, by focusing and reflecting on the feelings that were experienced throughout the day. These became very personal, but both Anjila and Tamara found the exercises important, as we are all people with feelings who process things differently – and thereby also learn differently.
While the students participating in the EIT Climate-KIC programmes gain valuable knowledge through activities such as workshops, SPARK! Lectures and exposure to various business opportunities, the knowledge they share with their peers is equally important.
“Label students have helped in sharing knowledge and background on climate issues to students that are not studying in the field of environmental sciences. This pushes you and gives you a shoulder to lean on and people that can help you if needed”
says Paul. For him, it was the world café concept Tamara and Anjila had learnt at the Journey that motivated him to continue engaging with the activities of Climate Action DTU.
As a highly interdisciplinary summer school, the Journey provides a platform for students to gain new perspectives to conversations and encourages them to think outside the box. It is this sense of community and engagement that inspires peer-to-peer learning and that served as a stepping stone for the creation of Climate Action DTU. As the students’ own Journey slogan from the summer cited by Anjila so rightly puts it;
“Alone you go faster, but together you go further”.
The Cities Learning Platform launched in 2018 by EIT Climate-KIC empowers cities in improving and better integrating their climate planning with finance planning. Most recently, EIT Climate-KIC, in partnership with the Danish Technical University, Acclimatise and Pannon Pro Innovation Solutions, launched three new modules on Cost Benefit Analysis for Climate Adaptation.
Urban areas are expected to become even more exposed and vulnerable to flooding and other consequences of climate change in the future. However, cost-effective planning of adaptation strategies is very complicated. Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) is a method that can help decision-makers evaluate adaptation projects and strengthen the basis for making sound investment decisions.
Module one of the Cost Benefit Analysis course is designed to help cities evaluate climate change adaptation measures and this course will introduce participants to key concepts to use when considering city adaptation projects.
Module two takes users on a step by step journey on how to use a CBA Climate Adaptation Tool. The course features a real-life CBA case study from Odense, Denmark. The third module is a short tutorial-based course where you will get hands-on practise in using the CBA CA Tool to evaluate adaptation options using a case study from Mumbai, India.
After completing this course, participants will be able to
- Outline the different steps in the CBA process for urban flooding and climate change adaptation projects
- Describe the main challenges and risks involved
- Outline the potential adaptation options that exist for tackling extreme climate events
- Explain the role of disaster risk and flood hazard mapping in the CBA process
- Outline the different methods used to determine the monetary value of adaptation measure benefits
- List the local, national and international sources of finance available to climate change adaptation projects