Scaling peaks in search of sustainable solutions
Right after Earth Day, from April 24-25th 2023, Aiglon held its very first Aiglon Sustainability Days - featuring a student-led sustainability conference organised in partnership with Beyond COP 21 Symposium.
COP 21, also known as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, was especially instrumental as it instigated a global agreement on minimising climate change - the Paris Agreement - and Beyond COP21 Symposium is all about the reverberations of COP 21.
The Symposium at Aiglon, encompassed presentations, workshops and an exhibition, bringing together around 150 students from the nearby international schools Leysin International School, La Garenne International School, College Alpin Beau Soleil, Verbier International School and the Institut Le Rosey, as well as green-orientated exhibitors such as J’aime ma planète, Le Grainier, The Summit Foundation, Romande Energie, to Alpes Vivantes and Les Verts d’Ollon.
It was a valuable event-planning learning experience because students did not just participate in the event, they also actively organised it in teams focusing on differing elements such as selecting exhibitors, presenting and facilitating at workshops, preparing social media content, and logistics on the day including greeting and accompanying guests and partnering with students from other schools.
The Sustainability Days catalysed conversations and sparked thought-provoking ideas. One such student idea that emerged from a workshop revolved around creating a personal carbon print tracking app, which would involve the completion of a daily survey with questions such as: did you turn off the lights or recycle your bottles? The students with the lowest 5 footprints could get a voucher in reward for their climate action efforts. Schools could introduce this to boarding houses as a whole too, and those with the lowest footprints could accumulate points, a bit like an eco-friendly Hogwarts!
Aiglon alumna Angela McCarthy (Clairmont, 1992) was one of our guest speakers, in addition to alumnus Gianni Valenti (Belvedere, 1995) of Gaia First. She has said while reminiscing about Aiglon’s rich expedition tradition and its wider impact: “Reaching that summit is like a little anchor, a root that you need in life to remind you that you can do things. It’s amazing when you realise you were given a gift at school.”
This gift in part gave Angela the impetus to be more curious about climate change and to dare to concretize The Earth Foundation where she is currently CEO. Angela, whose name literally signifies messenger, also pioneered the foundation’s first initiative, the Earth Prize - an environmental sustainability competition for 13-19 year old students.
The Swiss nonprofit's overarching aim is to guide the love and worry for the environment observed in our youth today through mentoring, education, empowerment and awakening imaginations, towards enacting true metamorphosis.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Framework, which was in fact launched shortly after COP21 and includes goals such as ensuring quality education and climate action, encourages all UN member states to achieve positive societal transformation by 2030.
In its own way, Aiglon strives to make its contributions both by taking a path that leads to 10% less energy consumption by 2029, through harnessing more solar energy, with eco-friendly new builds and going beyond (changing habits, reducing waste etc); and by cultivating Aiglonians that go on to become changemakers.
We recognise that it is so critical that the young - our future - are deeply involved with this intergenerational interchange: finding and planting the seeds to the solution and continuing to nurture earth’s foundations with sustainable actions so that we can all also continue to scale snowy peaks.