Marching together to save the climate
Global climate change is an issue that Arthur Bribosia (UCM) and Marion Meyers (DKE) feel very strongly about. Strong enough to take action. Last May, they got 3000 people out on the street to join the first climate march in Maastricht. For the next march, scheduled for 20 September, they’re hoping for 5000 participants.
While preparing a climate campaign in Maastricht, Arthur and Marion were surprised to find “hardly any environmental activism in this student city”. This prompted the two activists from Belgium to create a Students4Climate Facebook page and organise the first climate march in the city.
“There were a large number of participants, but also many people offering to give us some help. We have teamed up with a number of (environmental) organisations, such as Precious Plastic and Mondiaal Maastricht, to build up a climate action network. This allows us to speak with one voice when expressing our concerns about the climate. But we’re not only calling for change, we also want to put our ideas about a sustainable society into practice. ”
What Arthur and Marion certainly don’t want is keeping their initiative limited to a group of students. Marion: “In Maastricht, students and locals alike are living in their own bubble. They’re barely aware of each other's existence. We are trying to change this. Students4Climate - which now has around 40 active students – is consciously seeking cooperation with Maastricht residents and local initiatives. For example, we collected cups during the three-day music festival Bruis and received a lot of support from visitors.”
Collaboration with locals is one of the four goals that Students4Climate has set for the coming period. In addition, they want sustainability to become a compulsory part of every bachelor’s programme at Maastricht University. With the help of experts, they hope to draw up policy proposals for a better climate in the city. Arthur: “We’ll try to get neighbourhood platforms involved; they have the experience, UM has the knowledge.” And finally there will be a book designed to create awareness among individual people about the possibilities of a greener living.
One of Students4Climate’s wishes has recently come true: they have moved into a MatchHouse in Mariaberg. MatchHouse residents organise social activities with local residents in exchange for a low rent. "We were looking for a physical space where everyone who wants to join us is welcome," Marion explains. "Together with the residents of Mariaberg, we’ll be looking at some sustainability projects which we can set up in the coming period."
But first there’s the third climate march on September 20. “Not only in Maastricht, but all over the world, people will be taking to the streets. Three days later, the UN climate summit will take place in New York. It’s high time that we showed world leaders that we demand change. For example, we believe that the Maastricht local authorities should declare a "climate emergency". We must work together at all levels to counter the consequences of climate change. "
Last May’s 3000 participants are just the beginning, says Arthur. “We’ll need more people. We’re hoping that 5000 people will join us this time around."