‘Young people want a better future’: High-profile climate activist Vanessa Nakate to speak at UL conference

Vanessa Nakate

High-profile climate activist Vanessa Nakate to speak at UL conference.

‘Young people want a better future’: High-profile climate activist Vanessa Nakate to speak at UL conference

A high-profile activist will speak at a University of Limerick conference on why black voices matter in the collective response to the climate crisis.

Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan youth activist and colleague of Greta Thunberg who came to prominence when she was cropped out of a photo of her fellow activists at Davos, is to speak at an international conference, which is taking place for the first time in Ireland.

The Kemmy Business School (KBS) at UL is hosting the seventh biennial International Symposium on Cross-Sector Social Interactions (CSSI 2020) from today, Tuesday, to Friday.

Due to COVID-19, the conference has moved online and will be hosted virtually, but is still set to be the largest gathering of experts (academic and practitioner) on cross sector social partnerships in Ireland.

CSSI 2020 comes to Ireland for the first time at a pivotal moment for the UN’s sustainable development agenda and the future of cross sector partnerships. The event will play host to over 100 academics from more than 20 countries.

Alongside the academic delegates, the conference will also play host to a range of practitioners, including partnership broker organisations, NGOs and directors of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in a range of multinational organisations.

One of those to speak will be Vanessa Nakate, who received an apology from the Associated Press when she was cropped out of a photo following a press conference with other prominent climate activists.

Speaking ahead of her appearance at the conference this Wednesday, Vanessa said: “We are seeing very many young people across the world demanding action. We are seeing the power that is in this global activism and the message is very clear: Young people want change, young people want a better future, young people want to be able to live.

“Many of them have dreams, we have hopes, we have many things we want achieve in this world. But how can we be sure we will be able to achieve all these things, with a future that is so uncertain?”

Dr Annmarie Ryan, lecturer in marketing at UL’s Kemmy Business School – the only school in Ireland championing the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education – who is chair of CSSI 2020, said: “Vanessa Nakate brings into focus the lived experience of climate change, from the perspective of a young person living in Africa.

“She teaches us that collaboration is important – collaboration amongst businesses, government and non-profit organisations. But more than this, that this collaboration must be about action and a recognition that the UN sustainability goals cannot be achieved without listening to the voices of those who are affected most. We are delighted and honoured to have Vanessa speak at the symposium,” she added.

An important aim of the conference is to enable practice-theory dialogue and harness the expertise of academia to advance practice in this field. The specific theme of the 2020 conference in Limerick is Partnership and Place.

“Greater sensitivity to how place constrains and enables organising around issues like climate change can enrich both theory and practice of cross-sector partnerships in settings experiencing inequality and fragility,” explained Dr Ryan.

“As such, CSSI 2020 aligns well with Ireland’s international development policy, A Better World, in particular aspects of capacity, coordination and working in partnership and has been supported by Irish Aid, which we are very grateful for,” she added.

Irish Aid are one of the main sponsors of the event and have focused their support on investing in the next generation of scholars in this field through the provision of a new bursary scheme for doctoral and early career researchers. The bursary scheme will focus specifically on the role of partnerships in localised responses to the COVID-19 crisis.

About University of Limerick:

The University of Limerick is an independent, internationally focused university with 16,500 students and 1,700 staff. It is a young, energetic and enterprising university with a proud record of innovation in education and excellence in research and scholarship.

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