Dal students prepare for Earth Summit

Two Dalhousie students will be flying to Rio de Janeiro this June as part of student delegation to the Earth Summit. But what makes this delegation unique is the fact that each of the students involved has been to the Arctic, the Antarctic or both.

By Olivia Rempel

Bridget Graham and Leah Pengelly (Olivia Rempel photo).

Two Dalhousie students will be flying to Rio de Janeiro this June as part of a student delegation to the Earth Summit (or Rio+20). But what makes this delegation unique is that each of the students involved has been to the Arctic, the Antarctic or both.

Bridget Graham and Leah Pengelly have both been to the Arctic through the Students On Ice (SOI) program, which connects students with polar experts on educational expeditions to the polar regions.

“I learned a lot about the Arctic and about the culture, and I think that while I was up there I took in a lot of information, but I think the great thing is I continue to learn from my experiences everyday, and there’s not a day that isn’t influenced by my expedition and it has really changed my outlook,” says Pengelly about her 2008 Arctic expedition.

Graham is still fresh off her expedition, which took place in August 2011. “I met an amazing group of people and I still talk to them everyday,” says Graham, whose expedition was the first stop for SOI in Iceland, Greenland, Nunavik and Labrador.

The Students On Ice Alumni Delegation is comprised of 14 students who will be attending the Earth Summit, a handful of ‘home team’ members and advisors. Pengelly acts as the logistics coordinator, while Graham works on the education platform.

“Our mission is to address the current and emerging environmental, economic and social challenges facing the polar regions, and to promote long-term sustainability of these regions and to give the decision makers at Rio our unique perspective,” says Pengelly, reciting their mission statement.

Bridget Graham and Leah Pengelly (Olivia Rempel photo).

Although they admit that the delegation does not have concrete plans to move beyond the Earth Summit, the hope is that the impact the conference has on members of the delegation will inspire future environmental work.

“Moving beyond Rio20 is going to be a large challenge for the delegation, just keeping up the momentum. But I think that once we go to Rio we’ll have a better idea of how to tackle these challenges, because I think you learn a lot at these conferences,” says Pengelly.

Graham adds, “Once we get back it’ll be all about telling other people what we learned and what we did, and doing presentations within our communities.”

Graham will be speaking on behalf of the delegation in front of her sustainability class this Thursday evening during their end of the year poster presentation.

 

Related audio
Leah Pengelly talks about the Students On Ice prgram 

Leah Pengelly talks about the Students On Ice program