Interview with IUS Student Armela Mehdin, one of the first B&H youth representatives at the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference
IUS has always been a place that encourages bright, young individuals with aspiring ideas to foster change and make our world a better place. Armela Mehdin, a freshman student at the Faculty of Law, is one of these people. She is one of the first students from B&H that attended the biggest climate change conference in the world, COP (Conference of the Parties) 26 UN Conference held this month in Glasgow, Scotland. IUS proudly brings an interview with our student, where she talks more about her experiences on attending this conference.
1. Could you please tell us more about the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference?
For nearly three decades, the United Nations has brought almost every country on the planet together for global climate summits, known as COPs (Conference of the Parties). Meanwhile, climate change has progressed from a minor concern to a worldwide priority. COP26 was the place and time from which there was no going back, but only forward in finding ways to fight climate change. Different topics were discussed, such as finding sustainable alternatives, adapting communities and natural habitats and ways to cut the emission of greenhouse gases in order to prevent the warming of Earth more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
2. How did you find out about this conference?
At the start of this year, I joined the biggest world organization of youth dedicated to development of leadership, called AIESEC. AIESEC, together with UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized debates on the topic of climate change and the Paris Agreement, with the accent on the developments in our country. After a couple of rounds, together with another colleague of mine, I won the debates. As a prize, they decided to send us to COP26, as first youth representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
3. How does it feel to be the first representative of B&H youth in this conference?
It was one thing to have the honor and privilege to be a part of such conference, but the feeling of being the first ever youth representative of your country is a whole different matter. I was not aware of how many young people actually care about this subject until I attended the conference. It was amazing to see people of all backgrounds and origins having different perspectives about everything going on. To be in a room with them, representing your country, feels rewarding, accomplishing, but above all aspiring. To know that you are not in this fight alone, to know that there are people who understand what you are going through and to be able to listen and be heard. I think that this will be an unforgettable experience that I will cherish forever.
4. What did you learn at the conference?
I had the opportunity to attend a number of different presentations and art exhibits. These presentations were aimed at raising awareness about different topics that climate change has had an impact on, such as mental and physical health, women, people with disabilities, etc. They were also designed to educate us how to use social media, art, youth voices and other media as our weapons in the fight against climate change. Young people have the desire for education, for knowledge through which we can find solutions and improve our situation. COP26 was the perfect place to indulge the hunger for information, no matter how concerning the facts may be. Through this I learned that the optimum path is the exchange of experiences and enactment of innovative solutions.
5. In your opinion, how can IUS engage in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goals?
Even though IUS is one of the few universities who care about this issue (by having the SDG committee and implementing some activities in this respect) I believe the impact of the university would be greater if we involved students more. To know the importance of your own community and their abilities is the greatest advantage. Engaged and active community, especially students, who have the energy and the will to help, should be IUS’s biggest leverage. By giving them opportunities to develop, to learn while contributing to the implementation of SDG goals, we can improve our campus even further but also set our footprint in the society.
6. What are the greatest challenges of climate change for the youth?
Climate change, without a doubt, affects our everyday aspects of life, from nature to our life quality. Air pollution, water pollution, perishing ecosystems – this is not a myth, but our reality. There will be no future for our planet unless we take action immediately. The future does not start tomorrow, it starts today, and so does change!
7. Message to your peers at IUS
’’From small steps to great changes’’ is my slogan when asked how an individual can help. No matter how small the steps may seem, they end up having big effects. By just reflecting on our daily routine, we can think of so many different ways of contributing and protecting our environment. If we just think of plastic bags, plastic bottles and means of transportation, and replace it with reusable containers and public transportation, we already made a significant step forward. Engage in your community, raise awareness and educate yourselves and others.
IUS encourages its students and staff to join our SDG initiatives and become a part of the change. We wish Armela best of luck in her future endeavours and her studies at IUS.