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Putting Solutions to Global Climate Crisis First

Six Melton Fellows recently traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to join climate leaders from across the globe to work together to find solutions to climate change at the Climate Leadership Training, organized by The Climate Reality Project (TCRP). While Cristina Mardones, Karla Araya and Lars Dietzel attended the training as mentors, Gaurav Visvanathan, Parithosh Jayanthi and Nickhil Sharma were present as aspiring Climate Leaders, hoping to gain the skills necessary to take their projects relating to renewable energy, afforestation and sustainable education to the next level.

Day 1 covered Brazil’s steps towards combating climate change and its effects. Roberto Smeraldi, whose organization Amigos da Terra partnered with the event, spoke on the way they have integrated the fight for the Amazon’s forests with public policy formulation, market innovation, and media, with a special focus on local communities. Izabella Trixeira, the Minister of the Environment in Brazil highlighted how, by 2035, 93% of Brazilians would live in cities and the importance of handling urban migration with the utmost care to ensure that it doesn’t further worsen climate change. 

Mayalu Kolometi, an indigenous leader from Brazil’s Amazon area spoke about recognizing indigenous autonomy over forests and how it could be a key strategy in preventing deforestation. In a deeply engaging speech, she spoke about how local traditions such as exchanging foods with forest spirits had helped conserve the forests of her community. Emphasizing how important it was to protect the interests of these nature warriors in order to save the planet, her speech ended with a powerful call for action, “We are sick of talking!” 

On Day 2, attendees heard from the charismatic Al Gore, Chairman and Founder of The Climate Reality Project and Former Vice-President of the United States. Gore spoke on the challenges of (and solutions to) convincing people that climate change is happening and not simply the imagination of a few pessimistic people wanting to save the earth. 

Andre Trigueiro, Special Feature Reporter for Globo TV, spoke on Day 3, focusing on why the mainstream media has a huge responsibility in spreading awareness about this delicate issue. While scientific data and statistics are often too “cold” to move people, powerful images and narratives can quite simply do the trick, he explained. The day was filled with workshops and table discussions and many insightful questions were asked to the panelists who were experts in the field of climate change.

At the end of Day 3, the Climate Reality team announced that the next training would be held in another key country in need of immediate action to curb the climate crisis: New Delhi, India’s capital city, at the end of February 2015.

Following the Leadership Training, the Melton Fellows gathered to discuss the outcomes of this Melton Opportunity. One of the direct outcomes was a meeting with Mr. Aditya, the leader of the India branch of TCRP, who was happy to welcome the Melton Fellows on board to support his team in organizing the upcoming leadership training in New Delhi. Possible collaborations with the Climate Reality Team in India were discussed, such as assisting in setting up their second Indian chapter in Bengaluru. The Fellows also looked at collaborating with organizations to seek their help in making the MFGCC 2015 a carbon neutral event, which could be achieved by calculating the MF carbon footprint and offseting it by planting trees in Hangzhou and the other 5 Melton countries.

While the road ahead is filled with exciting opportunities, it will also be important to work to ensure that the momentum from Rio is carried forward into all Melton Foundation projects.