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University students from around the world invited to Québec City to discuss climate action in summer 2020

Québec City, September 19, 2019 – Student leaders from around the world are expected to attend the first International University Student Summit on Climate Action in summer 2020 at the Université Laval campus in Québec City, Canada.

The Québec government, Québec City, Université Laval, and other forthcoming partners will provide$700,000 in funding for the summit, which will bring together postsecondary students from around the world to discuss climate change. During a week of workshops and discussions, these future leaders will be encouraged to take action on climate change by joining influential decision makers and scientists in the search for concrete and creative solutions.

The summit will provide an opportunity for some 300 young leaders to discuss common values and approaches to climate change and engage in an international dialogue on the issue. In addition to sharing approaches, possible solutions, and actions, they will also form international research partnerships to bring their ideas to life.

«We're pooling the strengths, expertise, and ideas of future world leaders so they can generate solutions that will truly change the course of history,» said Université Laval rector Sophie D'Amours. «Urgent action is needed and, as an institution for higher learning, training, and research, we have a responsibility to stimulate discussion and help find solutions to sustainable development issues and climate change in particular. The summit will create opportunities for young people from around the world to meet, take action, and make a difference. Our university has been on the front lines of the fight against climate change for years and we will use the full influence of our international network to make this summit a must-attend event and an inspirational experience for participants.»

Université Laval will draw on its international network of over 560 partners to ensure the event's success. The Québec government and the City of Québec are already providing significant support. Aboriginal and Inuit students from northern Canada will be invited to discuss the climate issues affecting their communities. «Other Québec universities and strategic partners from a range of sectors will be invited to participate actively in developing and hosting the event,» added the rector.

Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change Benoit Charrette applauded the University initiative. «The fight against climate change is a global one, which each and every one of us has a duty to take up. It is the most important challenge of our time, and there is only one way to respond: by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to this reality so we're prepared to face its inevitable impacts. We will achieve these objectives by working together, with our young people and every nation in the world. Bravo, Université Laval, for this initiative and thank you to all the partners who will make this summit possible.»

Samuel Poulin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier (youth), underscored the timeliness of the event. «Now more than ever we need to innovate and do things differently—and that's where our young people come in. We're proud that the province of Québec, and the City of Québec in particular, is going to be the theatre for this inaugural summit. For years now Québec has been active in the fight against climate change alongside its fellow federated states, and is a leader in the field in Canada.»

Rémy Normand, Vice President of the Executive Committee for the City of Québec, mentioned that: «The City of Québec intends to join its partners in creating a network to foster innovative practices for fighting and adapting to climate change. The knowledge that emerges from the International Student Summit on Climate Action will help front-line actors such as cities make informed and effective decisions in addressing climate issues».

Institut Hydro-Québec en environnement, développement et société to leverage its expertise

The summit will be spearheaded by Université Laval's Institut Hydro-Québec en environnement, développement et société (EDS), a hub of knowledge on sustainable development with over 100 professors and 330 graduate students.

Institut EDS has set up a scientific committee composed of professors, students, community experts, and representatives from the City of Québec, the Québec government, and other partner universities to develop programming that reflects a wide range of current concerns. Institut EDS and its partners are already hard at work planning the event.

A long list of issues related to climate change will be addressed, including social decarbonization and the transition to a low-carbon economy, organizational and behavioural changes, human migration and conflicts linked to climate change, sustainable health, biodiversity, food security, public policy and citizen-based action, and extreme environmental disturbances.

«In addition to discussing the issues and coming up with concrete solutions, the students will be asked to present the approaches and social and technological innovations that give them hope in the fight against climate change and with regard to the other issues raised at the summit, whether they are past successes or ongoing actions,» said Étienne Berthold, the new director of Institut EDS.

The summit is expected to take place every two years to maximize opportunities for students' initiatives and practices to be implemented in social, political, economic, and other spheres. During the intervening year, a network for sharing practices will be set up via digital platforms and opportunities for information sharing and solution adoption (e.g., a specialized summer school, co-creation activities, seminars, mentoring, and more). Special attention will be paid to preparing university students to contribute to the United Nations Climate Change Conferences.

About Université Laval
Driven by innovation and the pursuit of excellence, Laval University is one of Canada's leading research universities, ranking 8th with$356 million in research funding last year. A leader in distance education, it has more than 1,600 professors, nearly 2,200 lecturers and other academic and research staff who share their knowledge with over 43,000 students, 25% of whom are enrolled in graduate studies. The university values diversity and is proud of the members of its community, who come from 120 countries. The oldest francophone university in North America, Laval University has so far trained more than 300,000 people who each contribute in their own way to the advancement of society.

Andrée-Anne Stewart
Media Relations
Université Laval
T: 418-656-3952
C and SMS: 418-254-3141

Louis-Julien Dufresne
Press officer
Cabinet du ministre de l’Environnement
et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques
Tél. : 418 521-3911