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TALKS: What We Learnt About The Planet at the Conscious Festival

Day two of the Conscious Festival powered by Holland & Barrett saw the youth take to the stage in our third session PLANET: Rising seas, rising youths. We heard from the youngest speaker to ever take the stage at a Conscious Festival, our very own Stephanie Dickson and Paula Miquelis, plus a raft of incredible young climate activists who are changing the game and inspiring others to #LiveMoreConsciously.

Here’s what they had to say:

We heard from students putting #LittleGreenSteps into action

The third of our student change-makers to open a Talks session was Renata Sheilla. Alongside her classmates, she put recycling bins around her campus, which resulted in a successful initiative that reuses textbooks. She summed it up perfectly with her closing remarks about how we can solve the climate crisis “We know what to do, why don’t we just do it?”

The youngest speaker on the block inspired us

Girl in a red top talking into a microphone
Kitty Bu and Leila Subler

Kitty Bu and her seven-year-old daughter Leila Subler demonstrated that no one is too young to make a difference. Leila is a sustainable warrior at school, and it’s her job to promote eco-friendly practices. Kitty highlighted that kids are smarter than we might give them credit for, they have great ideas, and we should not underestimate how much children can understand. 

The key to ensuring our children grow up conscious? Break down climate change in a way that they can understand. Leila used the perfect analogy of the earth wearing clothes to explain global warming to emphasise this point.

The GITNB co-founders took us to the Arctic

Steph Dickson and Paula Miquelis standing on a stage
Stephanie and Paula in action

Following a trip to the Arctic earlier this year, Stephanie Dickson and Paula Miquelis shared their learnings from the experience of a lifetime. From jumping into icy cold water completely naked to interviewing the renowned explorer, Sir Robert Swan, this was a life-changing trip for all involved. The key takeaways? That collective impact does make a difference (subsequently backed up by the UN Anatomy of Action report that scientifically proves small individual actions do lead to systemic changes). That we are entirely reliant on fossil fuels, this needs to change, and we need to start building better systems. And that we know the solutions to the climate crisis, but we need to start collaborating better as humans to make change happen. Their parting words? If you can start changing your world, you can change the world. 

We heard from student activists

Our first panel comprised four incredible youths: Rachel Tan (of @nocarrierpls Insta fame), Ho Xiang Tian (founder of LepakinSG and our very own Green Warrior), Komal Lad (who played a crucial role in organising the SG Climate Rally), and Bertrand Seah (prominent environmentalist and member of 350SG). Chaired by our very own content creator, Tammy Gan, the panel discussed a variety of issues from the SG Climate Rally to advice for young activists. The stark message from the panel was: “The people who are in power today will not have to face the impacts of climate change tomorrow”. The discussion covered how youths must continually apply pressure to governments to shift their relationship with fossil fuel companies, how the climate crisis is a humanitarian issue, and why education is critical when it comes to solving the climate crisis. So what can young people do to make a difference? Our panel advised the most effective action is to start talking about the issues to your immediate circle of influence (friends, colleagues, and family), join conscious communities, and step out of your comfort zone. And finally, we were urged to stay positive; the future may be uncertain, and the crisis can feel overwhelming, but together progress can be made.


We explored the issues with tourism

Girl on a stage talking into a microphone
Jaclyn Yost explaining the trouble with tourism

Regular GITNB contributor and founder of Ecomadic, Jaclyn Yost, shone a light on the dark side of the tourism industry. Describing the devastating impact travel has on the environment, Jaclyn kicked off with the astonishing facts that there were 1.4 billion airport arrivals in 2018, and that the tourism sector accounts for 10.4% of global GDP. She explored the importance of understanding sustainable tourism, supporting green travel initiatives, and understanding the impact of our decisions when travelling to combat this. Echoing the earlier panel, Jaclyn spoke about the importance of educating ourselves and our peers. Highlighting there is power in numbers, she encouraged the audience to lobby for the changes we want to see in the shift towards a more sustainable model of tourism. 

Who needs technology when we have trees?

man on stage
Quentin Vaquette

The brilliant Quentin Vaquette of ENGIE Factory delivered one of the most powerful talks of the weekend. He shared that according to IPCC reports if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, our remaining carbon budget is 420 gigatonnes. And if we continue to emit carbon at current rates, we will hit that limit within 11 years. Which means we have little over a decade to solve the carbon problem. And we are the last generation that can do something about it before it’s too late. We know what the problem is, and we know to solve it we must remove carbon from the air. But to succeed, Quention argued we must close the gap between environmentalists and capitalists. 

Currently, the solutions being championed involve developing machines to suck carbon out of the air, convert it into a liquid, and then store it in the ground. The answer will no doubt be highly profitable for the companies involved, but Quention argued why is it necessary when we have trees? Instead of investing in finding a tech solution, the focus should be on planting more trees and developing business models that will increase the demand for wood products. He encouraged the entrepreneurs of tomorrow to think differently and build something that solves the climate crisis. 

Our final panel shared shocking facts and tangible actions 

Five people talking on a stage

Did you know we all eat a credit card of plastic a week? That was just the first of several scary facts shared by our formidable final panel. Comprising four sustainability powerhouses including Esther An (CDL), Sean Lee-Davies (C: Change and Awethentic Studio), Kim Stengert (WWF), and Albert Lai (Carbon Care Asia), and hosted by Gaetan de Dietrich (HMLET), they covered a lot of ground. In a wide-ranging discussion, they discussed everything from using our phones too much to championing female entrepreneurs who are leading the green revolution. Echoing the sentiment made by Quentin Vaquette, the panel reiterated we only have 11 years to take action, and the time to do something is now. This session threw out a tonne of #LittleGreenSteps, here are some of our favourites:

> Stop ordering clothes online

> Use your phone less

> Sign petitions! It helps NGOs who have access to policymakers

> You don’t have to be sustainable 100% of the time. It’s far better if everyone could be sustainable 50% of the time, than 10 people being sustainable 100% of the time.

> Think about ways you can offset your carbon footprint (plant trees!)

> Buy from businesses that have a strong social ethic

> Point the finger at companies and lobby governments

> Act now