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Andover Trees United Youth Team Member gives her voice to COP26 conference

Andover Trees United youth team member, Maylis Riera has taken part in a live conversation with members of the Scottish Children’s Parliament and members of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programme from Kenya, Argentina, Tanzania, Puerto Rica and the UK. Maylis was one of 2 young people invited to speak on behalf of Roots & Shoots groups in the UK.

The online event, which took place last Friday, 5th November, was part of the ‘Realising a compassionate planet’ conference and was co-hosted by the University of Edinburgh Global Compassion Initiative and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. This conference was about how compassion can help us to deal with climate change and to make a better world.

Speakers included the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark and co-founder of the Eden Project, Sir Tim Smit. In the morning the ethologist and environmentalist,  Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, spoke about how compassion had been part of her life and explained how she went into the forest to learn about chimpanzees – and came out of the forest to save them, when she realised how badly their habitat was being destroyed. She noticed what was happening to the chimpanzees, connected with it, felt upset and a responsibility to them and determined – and took action.  

Along with all the young people taking part, Maylis expressed the importance of involving young people in the debate, of informing them, listening to their ideas and then acting on them. Their message was a powerful one.

Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programme is about making positive change happen – for communities, for animals and for the environment. And, through projects, connections are made with many young people in over 65 countries across the world, to help make our world a better place. The programme has a strong connection with the young people of Andover through the work of ATU and core partner schools.

Maylis has been a member of Andover Trees United’s Nature in Harmony Exchange Project since its inception in 2020. Through field studies and practical conservation activities, this has given her insights into the variety of habitats in Harmony Woods and, through exchanges with the young people who are part of the Corcovado Foundation with whom we are partnered, about the rainforests of Costa Rica. Maylis spoke about how her experiences had connected her to the natural world and how important this is to developing understanding and compassion for our planet. She went on to ask those who are in a position to take action and make a difference, to place a greater emphasis in schools on taking young people out into nature to gain experiences first hand.

Maylis said: “The COP26 Youth Meeting was an opportunity that I will honour highly. It has opened up more chances and meetings with others and I am very appreciative of that. Once again, I thank Andover Trees United and Roots & Shoots for considering me to be one of their representatives of such high importance. It truly was a treasurable experience that I hope will help influence many other young people to follow in our footsteps across the area.” 

Wendy Davis, founder of Andover Trees United said: “We are honoured to have been asked by Roots & Shoots UK to invite a member of our youth team to take part in the COP26 conversation and are immensely proud of Maylis for her insights and the confidence with which she expressed her thoughts and ideas to the assembled audience of change-makers from around the world.”