With large swaths of the country engulfed in flames, battered by winds, steeped in floodwaters, or parched by drought – tragic and costly conditions that a recent United Nations report links to global warming – Georgia Tech is looking forward to hosting the third annual Global Climate Action Symposium, Sept. 27 – 29.
Bringing together a wide range of local and global experts to showcase climate change solutions, the event will be held in a fully virtual, online format for the second year due to the pandemic.
The online format has truly put the “global” in Global Climate Action Symposium, says Selena Langner, communications director for Georgia Tech’s Global Change Program, which spearheads the event in partnership with Tech’s Serve-Learn-Sustain, the Atlanta Global Studies Center, and six European consulates in Atlanta (France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.K., and Belgium).
“One thing we learned during Covid,” Langner says, “was the benefit of having something virtual, beyond the sustainability aspect. The first year, we featured a mix of global and local experts, but our audience was inherently limited to the Tech community. When we went virtual last year, we reached attendees from 20 different countries.”
Free and open to all, each day of the symposium will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and focus on a specific aspect of the climate challenges ahead (see inset). Each session features a keynote speaker, a panel discussion, “Lightning Talks” by students and organizations, and a Masterclass. Experts include engineers, scientists, business and policy leaders, students, and artists.
“We have an amazing lineup of speakers, including five student speakers,” Langner says. “We’ve also just added a Lightning Talk from 9-year-old activist Faatiha Aayat, from Bangladesh, who has spoken about climate on the international stage.” Other highlights include a smoothie tutorial from Concrete Jungle and the student art contest, which this year features submissions from Nigeria, the U.S., Switzerland, and South Africa.
“There’s never been a more important time to talk about climate solutions, and our faculty, students, and staff want to be a part of the conversation,” says Kim Cobb, Georgia Power Chair and ADVANCE Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and director of the Global Change Program. “We’re thrilled to showcase some of the many partners that make Georgia Tech the research and education hub that it is.”
Symposium content will be made available to the general public on YouTube after the fact for those who aren’t able to watch the proceedings in real time as they unfold, Langner says, but she strongly encourages preregistration at bit.ly/GCAS2021.
“Registering in advance makes it really easy for anyone who’s interested,” she notes. “We have additional resources our panelists will be sharing early, we can send all the links by email, and we can share all of the Q&A and chat transcripts – we’ll even be sending out smoothie recipes.”