Student teams in Paris on the day of the Forum poster session

Led by Yale University on behalf of the International Sustainable Campus Network, the Global University Climate Forum brings students together to share ideas, learn, connect, and act on the global imperative of addressing climate change.

The Global University Climate Forum started in 2009 as a program of the International Alliance of Research Universities as a way to encourage students attending the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen to consider how connections between local action and the global negotiations. Since then, the program has shifted to ISCN and grown to include partnerships with many excellent universities and networks depending on the themes for the year and the locations of the Conferences. To date, events have been held in Rio during the 2012 Earth Summit, in Paris during the Paris Climate negotiations, and online in 2020-21. Each time, students were asked to envision a local-scale project with measurable outcomes and asked to report on their successes and lessons learned over time.

Nearly 600 students from 134 universities in 44 countries participated in the 2020 Forum cohort. The final reports of the teams that completed the program were included in the publication, The Knowledge Sector: The Role of Higher Education Institutions in Addressing Global Environmental Challenges. With a foreword by Patricia Espinosa and Next Steps by Christiana Figueres, two of the former Executive Secretaries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, this free online publication showcases the activities and remarkable contributions of the participants. It also shows how we can and should rely on universities to research, teach, and garner action for transformative change. In 2022, a cohort of nearly 80 students added to that publication.

Following COP27, the organizers created a youth advisory council composed of previous participants to help inform the next iteration of the program. The role of this group of emerging leaders is to both ensure that the Forum delivers programming that enlightens and empowers today’s university students while also ensuring that the Forum is a complement to the many programs that have emerged in the 14 years since its inception.

The ISCN plans to announce the next iteration of the Forum after COP28.