Eugene Brown Agyei
“Alright. Get ready. We go live shortly!” Those are the words I would usually say or text on the MTU COP27 Whatsapp group page minutes before a class on campus joined us to learn about our experiences at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. This came after many hours of preparation by the MTU delegation which included booking meeting rooms, setting up cameras, and putting our notes together. If you met us within this period, you’d think we were running a mini newsroom. My past experience working in the media had prepared me for things like this.
Since Michigan Tech was granted observer status to the conference in 2019, the delegation has always endeavored to share their experiences live from the conference grounds with students offering related courses on campus. This year was no different, except that we went beyond the usual Zoom sessions with students sharing their experiences turn by turn. We wanted them to virtually feel the conference environment, enjoying the ambiance, the chaos, and the massive crowds right in their classroom in Houghton.
COP27 took place from November 6th to November 18th, 2022. The Michigan Tech student delegation went in two groups. The first group which participated in the activities of the first week included me, Rose Daily (Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering), Kendra Lachick (Social Sciences), Anna Kavanaugh (Social Sciences), and Alexis Pascaris (Social Sciences). Ayush Chutani (Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics), Katherine Huerta Sanchez (Social Sciences), Aritra Chakrabarty (Social Sciences), and Shardul Tiwari (Social Sciences),
The first day of our Life from COP experience did not go exactly as planned. Even though we had a nice setup and ambitious ideas, technology had its own plans. However, we were able to share our experiences with one class on campus and answer questions they had sent to us before our interaction.
On the second day, we added a little bit of innovation and positioned ourselves at different points at the venue. This gave us indoor and outdoor experiences while interacting with students. For my colleagues who were new to anything journalism, that would be their first experience as student reporters. We shared scenes of what was happening on the grounds from different areas and gave them a brief of events and sessions that we had individually been part of. The exciting part was that we received an invitation to a keynote speech by President Joe Biden on that day. We shared snippets of the prelude to the event also.
Students on campus in turn had several interesting questions about which countries were making waves at the conference and what their priorities were. We shared with them ideas, initiatives, and proposals for addressing climate change as well as which of them we thought were the most realistic and most likely to win support from more than one group. We talked about China, and Egypt as the host, the venue and facilities as well as our surprises. There are always surprises at COP.
Before the Live from COP, and after it, students from Michigan Tech and others from six universities in the United States and other countries who formed the Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education (YEAH) network hosted press conferences and panel discussions on climate education, youth climate actions, and storytelling among others. We also participated in events that were of interest to us or related to our areas of study. All of these were beside the exhibition that we mounted at the US Center. The display highlighted what climate action meant to young people like us.
Being part of such a global conversation on an important topic as climate change is an experience of a lifetime. We formed connections with different people from different parts of the world that will last a lifetime, made great impressions highlighting our training at Tech, and saw a different part of the world. Beyond this momentous experience, the commitment of Tech students toward a sustainable world is proof of Michigan Tech’s commitment to preparing students for the future.
This post was written by Eugene Brown Agyei, who is attending COP 27 as part of a delegation led by Sarah Green and the Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education (YEAH) Network. YEAH is a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional network that equips students with real-world experience in collaborative, evidence-based approaches to global environmental sustainability. Eugene is among more than 35,000 attendees at the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27). The annual summit is the largest climate-change-focused event in the world. He is a Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture graduate student at Michigan Technological University.