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Young climate change activist: See the change Christchurch

28 October 2020

For anyone feeling powerless about climate change, Lucy Gray has a solution. The 13 year-old student had just started a climate action group in her school, so when international protests reached Aotearoa she made sure Christchurch was involved, organising the ChCh School Strike for Climate (SS4C) group.


Two large-scale protests later, Gray is a keynote speaker at the first hui for the 2020-2021 Aotearoa New Zealand Sustainable Development Goals Summit Series, being held online on 19 November, and launched today [27 October]. She is joined by fellow youth activist Tāmati Cunningham ((Ngāi Tahu) and other leading change-makers.

You don’t have to start a protest to find your voice and be effective, Gray says. “Getting involved with events such as the SDG Summit Series is really helpful to stop feeling powerless and channel your passion into a purpose!” she says. 

Sustainable Development Goal

Co-hosts University of Canterbury (UC) and Lincoln University, supported by Ara Institute of Canterbury, Christchurch City Council (CCC) and Christchurch NZ, are focusing on youth for this first of three online hui, leading to an action-focused workshop at UC in September 2021. However, it’s not just young people who need to know about the SDGs.

SDG Summit series Chair and UC Sustainability Advisor Dr Matt Morris says, “We’re bringing people on a journey from individual understandings of the SDGs to how we can work together across the country for massive, urgent, systems change for sustainability.

“The only way we are going to be able to rise to the challenges outlined in the SDGs is by working together – even with people and sectors we sometimes feel unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. We either all get through these challenges together, or none of us do!”

The first hui Seeing the Change is for participants to learn about how the SDGs can help everyone to achieve a more equitable and sustainable world.

Following lightning talks and a Q&A session, participants will join one of two streams – one for those who are new to the SDGs and another for those who are more familiar. Who better to introduce SDGs than Allen Hill, Principal Lecturer in Sustainable Practice at Ara and a sustainability educator with over 20 years of experience?

“The SDG's paint a picture of a future where all people, right across the planet, tread lightly and respectfully on our environments, are connected to each other and our biosphere, and value equity, inclusivity, justice, and partnership to allow people and the planet to flourish,” he says.

The United Nations called for “a decade of action” to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, and the 17 SDGs that are the framework to achieve this.

Waikato Wellbeing Project’s Raewyn Jones is also speaking at the event. She’s been busy working to “enable our region's recovery, resilience and reimagination through accelerating collective action towards achieving agreed sustainability targets... with simple and practical solutions for our communities’ greatest challenges”.

WEL Energy Trust, a community trust, has 10 years to “deliver on our collective responsibility to achieve a better and more sustainable tomorrow”, Jones says. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern launched the Waikato Wellbeing Project as a pilot study into how to implement the SDGs at the regional level.

Advisor Hapai Hapori, Department of Internal Affairs, and United Nations Association of New Zealand Special Officer for the SDGs, Dr Pedram Pirnia organised Aotearoa’s first SDG Conference and is a speaker at this event.

“The strong manawhenua and youth presence at this hui provide for an incredible base to build the conversation from, and we are very focused on doing that,” Dr Morris says.

The event is based in Ōtautahi, where Ngāi Tuahuririri and Ngāi Tahu are manawhenua. Professor Te Maire Tau, Director of UC’s Ngāi Tahu Research Centre will welcome the participants, Corban Te Aika, Kiarahi, also from UC, is the MC, and facilitator and weaver James Bishop will run the second stream, activator session for the hui.


The Aotearoa New Zealand Sustainable Development Goals Summit Series is an online live event on 19 November 6.30 – 8.30pm. Tickets are just $15 or free for youth. Go to Humantix to book here.  


Read more: the Aotearoa/New Zealand Sustainable Development Summit Series 2020-2021:

The 2020-2021 series is made up of 3 online hui and 1 in-person summit - under the theme of "Pathways to (Urgent) Action". The series will present a journey - taking people from firstly understanding the goals, to exploring how we as individuals engage with the goals, to how we can work together to achieve the goals, culminating in the final summit which will place an emphasis on the role of collaboration and positive systemic change.

Online Hui #1 - See the Change, 19 November 2020

Online Hui #2 - Be the Change, March 2021 TBC

Online Hui #3 - Working Together for Change. June 2021 TBC

SUMMIT event - Collaboration for Systemic Change, September 2021.

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