Pupil at COP26: 'I feel inspired to bring about change'

Maria (front right) visited a Glasgow primary school with the UN youth envoy for climate change

Maria (front right) visited a Glasgow primary school with the UN youth envoy for climate change, Nisreen Elsaim (front centre) - Credit: South Hampstead High School

I first heard about COP26 from our school's eco team. I’m lucky to attend a school that views the environment and sustainable mitigation strategies as a priority.

Since attending a mock COP summit in London earlier this term, I’ve become increasingly passionate about exploring climate change and what countries and individuals are doing to adapt.

At South Hampstead, we’re always encouraged to speak up and use our voices to affect change. That sense of responsibility and a connection to nature were my main motivations for applying to attend.

It was an incredible opportunity to be chosen to go to Glasgow, to represent the voices of so many pupils. Our group was part of a school-based climate campaign, participating in panel discussions with people from across the world including academics, politicians and activists.

We worked with PPL PWR (People Power - a student charity) in the main exhibition Green Zone, promoting sustainability and joining discussions with the public about climate anxiety, which is affecting so many young people worldwide.

Maria Mezian

Maria Meziani was chosen to go to the COP26 summit in Glasgow - Credit: South Hampstead High School

Highlights in the Green Zone included a variety of climate-based activities, such as a powerful virtual reality stand, which really motivated me to do more for our planet.

We met COP26 President, Alok Sharma; Nigerian eco-activist, Kelo Uchendu; and visited a local primary school with the UN Youth Envoy for Climate Change, Nisreen Elsaim - it was inspiring to see such young children becoming more empowered and proactive in protecting our environment. 

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The whole experience was incredibly enriching and I’m grateful to have met so many like-minded students, develop my communication skills and broaden my social circle. I really hope that COP26 will signal a historic moment in environmentalism and look forward to playing my part in spreading awareness and promoting systemic change. 

South Hampstead High School student, Maria Meziani, successfully applied to attend COP26 in Glasgow. She was one of 20 sixth formers chosen to represent the UK Schools Sustainability Network (UKSSN) - a national organisation of youth environmentalists who collaborate on green initiatives and ideas to implement in schools.