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Young researchers represent Leeds at UN climate conference

Centre news

Two young researchers from the University of Leeds presented alongside leading international and development experts for a world leading university network at the UNFCCC conference in Morocco.

Postgraduate and Priestley Centre member Harriet Thew and Masters graduand Phellecitus Montana presented the work at an official side event at COP22 in Marrakech on Saturday 12 November for the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), a global academic network driving international research collaboration.

The event, Loss and Damage due to Climate Change: Understanding Values, Vulnerability and Livelihood Security, featured research conducted by Ms Montana for her Masters project on non-economic loss and damage among youth in informal settlements in Cape Town, South Africa. The research, which was part of a WUN  project led by the University of Western Australia, was supervised by Harriet Thew and Dr Susannah Sallu, Associate Professor of Environment and Development at Leeds.

All three are interviewed on Paul Hudson’s Weather Show on BBC Radio Leeds on Sunday 20 November.

It is unusual for a Masters student’s research to have such high profile exposure, and Ms Montana’s research is unique in being the only study of loss and damage from a youth perspective. She interviewed young people living on the outskirts of Cape Town to see how their lives were being impacted by climate change in terms of a range of values including health, access to education and mobility discovering, among others, that flooding was so commonplace that it was seen as the norm.

“Attending COP22 was a dream come true,” said Ms Montana, who graduates with an MSc in Environment and Development for the University of Leeds in December. “I was thrilled to be a participant within the many critical discussions on climate change action as a youth delegate and to have presented my research. I look forward to learning, connecting and sharing my experience.”

A policy brief for the study can be found here: cop22-loss-damage-policy-brief and the flyer for the side event here: cop22_flyer_2710161

Phellecitus Montana will be sharing a diary of her COP 22 experience, along with video extracts, in a forthcoming blog for the Priestley International Centre for Climate.