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December 2021 – January 2022 | Features

Children have their say on COP26

Children have their say on COP26

A Rotary poster competition to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference attracted almost 4,000 entries from children, with many going on display in Glasgow.

Rotary has very much been involved with COP26 which was attended by 30,000 delegates and over 100 Heads of State travelling from all over the world.


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In three of the Glasgow hotels where the delegates were staying, as well as in the departure lounge of Glasgow Airport, children’s posters depicting the environment and climate change went on display throughout the 13-day conference.

Winning Poster by Emma O

The colourful posters show the world exactly what our children think about climate change and the action which should be taken to protect their world for future generations.

It was part of a Rotary poster competition, which was organised by Helensburgh Garelochside Rotary, which is based at Rhu in Dunbartonshire, northwest of Glasgow.

Secretary John Macpherson said that once they knew COP26 would be staged in Glasgow, the club felt it was important that Rotary had a presence.

Helensburgh Garelochside has experience in running poster competitions for primary schools in the area.

John explained: “We believed this was a massive opportunity for our children to think about climate change and the action that should be taken to protect their world for future generations.

“We wished to give them an opportunity to convey their message to the widest possible audience.”

The colourful posters show the world exactly what our children think about climate change and the action which should be taken to protect their world for future generations.”

The theme of the poster competition was ‘Mitigating climate change through the eyes of young children and club President, Tariq Durrani worked with Rotary International in Evanston, along with Judith Diment, Rotary Representative to the United Nations and Doug Wills, Rotary Representative to the Commonwealth.

The competition was promoted across the West of Scotland, and Rotary districts across Great Britain and Ireland, many of whom ran their own district competitions, with the best entries going forward to the national final.

Around 3,800 entries were received from far apart as Mull in the Scottish Highlands, to Cornwall.

Second Place Austin Harris

The winning entries were announced during COP26 by Judith Diment at the Youth Day in the Commonwealth Pavilion, where 20 of the best posters were also put on a show during the conference on pop-up stands.

John explained that they promoted the competition on the basis that it offered an unparalleled opportunity for Rotary clubs in Great Britain and Ireland to engage in a project to highlight the key issues of climate change as seen through the eyes of primary school children.

He added: “We believed that the competition recognised the work of Rotary clubs across Great Britain and Ireland, raised awareness of climate change amongst primary school children as well as recognising the environment as Rotary’s newest and seventh area of focus.

“It also gave COP26 delegates an opportunity to see the work of young children, and provided a unique experience for their work to be displayed at the Climate Change Conference.”

The winning poster was produced by Emma O’Donnell from Kirkburton near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire who received the first prize of £300.

Austin Harris from Methlick in Aberdeenshire was second collecting £200, with Lucy Santner from Amersham in Buckinghamshire third and receiving a prize of £100.

“Quite simply the quality of entries was outstanding,” said John. “And the winning entries received much praise.

“The response from Glasgow Airport, where many posters are being displayed, was ‘We’ve taken a look at them and they look great. We all agreed our favourite was the national winner. Such great artistry from children.'”

Glasgow City Council organised a display of three pop-up stands at the events they were hosting in the City Chambers”

The display at Glasgow Airport will remain until after the New Year. In the week preceding COP26, identical posters from the Rotary competition went on display at Strathclyde University for their ‘Conference of the Youth’.

Two of the main conference hotels, the Hilton and the Marriott, displayed a pop-up stand in their reception areas and a third, the Crowne Plaza, mounted a rolling display of the entries on large screens in the public areas of the hotel.

Glasgow City Council organised a display of three pop-up stands at the events they were hosting in the City Chambers with a supportive quote from the Glasgow Lord Provost, Councillor Philip Braat.

And locally, Argyll and Bute Council and Helensburgh Community Council invited the Rotary club to stage a display at the Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre which focused on entries from across their council area.

In addition, winning posters and entries received from Rotary clubs in the West of Scotland were displayed at their district conference in October.

The Rotarians have been supported by the Head of Tourism & Conventions at the Glasgow Convention Bureau, the Chair of the Board of the AGS Airports Ltd, and the Lord Provost of Glasgow.

Third Place Lucy Santer.

Former Prime Minister, Theresa May, lent her support to the competition saying: “I am delighted to learn of Rotary’s Primary Schools Competition which asked primary schools to produce posters that capture the views of young children on climate change and the environment, and what they think should be done to mitigate against or to adapt to climate change.

“It is encouraging to see the enthusiasm shown by the primary school children and the way it has enhanced their understanding of the issues.”

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