Climate change affects every single one of us. We can only combat it jointly, only with knowledge from different disciplines, and by involving people from different countries. This is the premise upon which scholarship holders at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation have recently created a network in which experts from all faculties can exchange ideas about climate protection. Their reach is still limited – but the initiators are nevertheless optimistic that they can make a difference.
Lonava Tahreen, Rupesh Shrestha and Netra Naik are convinced that every step counts, no matter how small it may be. They, together with ten other experts who received an from the , and who are currently pursuing their projects in Germany, have established an interdisciplinary network in their free time. They want to use it to exchange ideas about the various facets of climate change with other interested parties from all faculties. Because they feel that the only way to solve this global challenge is to collaborate and extend intellectual and geographic borders. Even if ‘Climate Beyond Borders’ (CBB) is still in its infancy, the initiators are hoping for a long-term impact.
‘We were after all awarded our scholarships in the midst of the pandemic’, explains Lonava Tahreen, ‘so our Humboldt experience mostly took place online, starting with our language courses. It also meant that we couldn’t hold the otherwise usual interchange meetings, so we decided to introduce a digital coffee table session. The main topic determined by the beneficiaries was climate change, a topic that unites them all. ‘Our origins, our backgrounds, and our specialisms are extremely diverse – our group for instance includes a lawyer, two architects, an agricultural engineer, an environmental policy analyst, and many other experts. We wanted to exploit that. We didn’t know at the time what would come of it, but we were convinced that an interchange between our disciplines could give rise to a wide range of ideas.’
‘Climate Beyond Borders’ still considers this vision to be an obligation. Albeit the network is very conscious that it doesn’t want to discuss the problems, but rather the solutions. That’s why its members have started to provide a podcast that describes the consequences of climate change, and tries to raise awareness among their audience. ‘Each of us has experienced flooding, drought, and other catastrophes in our home country that can be attributed to climate change’, stresses Netra Naik. ‘This enables us to add a personal touch that we can use to move others.’ At the same time the CBB team attempts to explain the sometimes complex relationships as simply as possible.
Yet, as some pessimists might object, is it not already far too late to take action? Don’t we just have to accept climate change? ‘No’, says Rupesh Shrestha emphatically. ‘The best time to have planted a tree would maybe have been 20 years ago – but the second best time is now. Besides, we ultimately only have two options: we can just give up and allow our planet to be destroyed, or we can strive for positive changes. That’s not easy, of course, but together we can make a major impact if everyone changes their lives just a tiny bit.’
In any case there’s still a lot for ‘Climate Beyond Borders’ to do. ‘We’re currently just a small group who run CBB in our free time, and who are now scattered across Germany – but we will soon be global again. So it’s by no means easy to coordinate ourselves’, Lonava Tahreen elaborates. ‘We do hope that we’ll quickly grow, but in any event the network has so far been useful to us on multiple levels. Firstly, the platform has bonded us together in a way that may not have been possible without the pandemic, and we have also learned a massive amount from one another. My work mostly involves international emissions trading, for example, but the CBB has also taught me something about adaptation techniques in agriculture, and about urban planning. I find that extremely stimulating.’
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