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Kirsty Schneeberger talk

Kirsty Schneeburger portraitKirsty has fallen in love with the potato, but her story starts with a dining hall… at New College Oxford. The oak ceiling is marvellous, but recently had a beetle infestation. What to do? The college forester said that the original builders of the hall centuries ago had also planted a grove of oak trees to plan for the future.

According to the Brundtland Commission, sustainable development is “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Kirsty and others tried to take young people’s perspectives to the UN Climate Conference at Poznan in Poland. But she felt powerless affect the processes amid many other competing interests. Her ‘fear dragon’ reared its head, and she came away feeling dispirited.

But 3 months on, she and the other campaigners went to the next UN conference. Instead of taking answers, she took questions, specifically, “how old will you be in 2050?” She wanted to invite the delegates to think differently and actually live the questions on what they were trying to do.

We’ve been having a bit of a climate change party, thinking we won’t have a hangover. But future generations are going to bear the brunt of that hangover. And that’s why Kirsty’s trying to bring young people into the process. Living the questions creates a space to say we don’t know what the answers are, but if we work together in that dark space, we might be able to work them out.

Fear can hold back, or it can motivate, like Kirsty’s efforts to address her fear dragon. Vulnerability TED Brené Brown said: “courage is to speak your story with the whole of your heart”. St George slayed the dragon. But St Martha tamed the dragon – that is courage.

Taming the fear dragon took lots of energy. We are going to need to live with the whole of our heart. We are going to need courage. It’s OK not to know the answer. So Kirsty hopes that we will all have courage. So when she is 66 in 2050, she can look back from her rocking chair on stories of living the question with the whole of our heart. Which will be a remarkable cure for any hangover she might have woken up with.

More Information

UK Youth Climate Coalition on Twitter

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings

Think2050 on Twitter

Kirsty is also on Twitter

Kirsty Schneeberger biography

Kirsty SchneebergerKirsty Schneeberger is a pioneering campaigner for sustainable development and intergenerational equity.

From 2008-11 as a coordinator of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, Kirsty participated in the UNFCCC negotiations and formed the online advocacy platform Think2050. She also established and coordinated the youth stakeholder engagement programme at DECC.

Kirsty is a former Director of US Operations for the Stakeholder Forum, an international organisation which undertakes policy analysis and stakeholder engagement around sustainable development issues in the intergovernmental arena.

She has worked for a variety of NGOs in the field of environmental law and sustainable development policies, and is a Council Member of the UK Environmental Law Association, a trustee of the charity the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), a Director of the International Court for the Environment Coalition, and an adviser to the Intergenerational Foundation. In 2012 she was appointed to DECC’s Green Deal Women’s Panel.

Kirsty was awarded an MBE in 2010 for services to environmental conservation.