Tech hosts second Climate Action Symposium

The Kendeda building represents Tech’s sustainability efforts. // Photo by Garrett Shoemaker Student Publications

Last week, Tech hosted the second-annual Global Climate Action Symposium, an event which brought together various different experts to discuss climate change solutions. It marks the continued effort by the Institute to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Symposium, held completely virtually, occurred over the course of three days, from Oct. 6-8 and was sponsored by Serve-Learn Sustain at Tech, the Atlanta Global Studies Center and six European consulates as a part of European Climate Diplomacy Week.

Experts from a multitude of different institutions, fields and countries attended the event.

In an announcement prior to the event, Kim Cobb, Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and director of the Global Change Program stated, “The symposium is a great opportunity to celebrate the diverse, vibrant community that is dedicated to climate solutions here in Atlanta and across the world.”

She continued, “From science to policy, and from industry to nonprofits, Georgia Tech is thrilled to partner with our EU consulates here in Atlanta to showcase how Georgia is leading on climate solutions, through innovation and partnerships.”

Discussions were structured according to each day’s themes; these were Ecosystems & Climate, Environmental Justice, and Green Recovery & COVID-19. The information explored new climate science, the intersection of racial justice and climate action locally and internationally, and new plans which navigate climate action in tangent with social and economic recovery from COVID-19.

In the same announcement, Director of Serve-Learn-Sustain Jennifer Hirsch stated, “[The Symposium] will highlight connections that we need to understand and address moving forward — between public health, the natural environment, and equity — to ensure that recovery takes us to a new place, not back to the pre-pandemic normal.”

The Symposium also featured Student Lightning Talks, virtual tours for various different climate exhibits, buildings, and community partners, and the winners of the Climate Action Art and Photo Submission Contest.
This event further cements Tech’s campus-wide sustainability effort, an initiative that plans to implement the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at Tech.

“Representing some of the most consequential and complex problems we face as a species, the SDGs range from health and hunger to gender equality and ocean biodiversity,” said President Cabrera in an earlier event to promote Tech’s commitment to the SDGs.

“They are not nice-to-haves; they are essential for the long-term sustainability of life and human development on our planet.”

Another testament to the early success of this program has proved to be the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, which on Oct. 5 of this year won four Atlanta E3 Awards for environmental and economic advancement.

“The Kendeda Building was built to inspire change, not just on Georgia Tech’s campus, but across the Southeast building industry,” said the building’s director Shan Arora after the award was announced.

“We are honored that the region’s leaders have recognized the building for demonstrating what is possible in terms of buildings that return more to the environment and people than they take.”