Seek the Change: a Journey Begins

Posted on: 29 August 2014

After two years at Student Hubs I have decided the time has come to pursue a dream I have harboured since I was 18. I am travelling halfway across the world, using as much overland transport as possible, meeting environmental initiatives along the way. No small task, and not one I am taking to lightly.

I’ve been passionate about the environment, conservation and sustainability since I was 9 or 10. Finding out that cruelty to animals and destruction of biodiversity and habitats was caused by humans really drove me to try to make a difference and reverse our damage.

I studied Geography at Cambridge, focusing on environment and international development issues as much as possible – I was determined that environmental sustainability was going to be the focus of my career.

While I was at university I started to think about how I could extend and apply the theories I was learning in the lecture hall to my own life. It motivated me to take my first job with the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (attached to the UN Environment Programme).

From here I decided to make a jump to investigate these learnings further – all the way to Ecuador. I saved up my own money and got myself an internship with the Ministry of Environment over there (after a few weeks to improve my Spanish in Quito!). It was an amazing way to get an insight into how the high-level biodiversity policies we were involved in at WCMC were playing out on the ground.

Having gotten a taste of grassroots community action in Ecuador, Cambridge Hub was exactly the job I wanted when I returned to the UK. Working with the amazing student committees, as well as the staff team here and at Student Hubs, has been a brilliant experience of making change happen in real time.

But, as 2014 began, I had a New Years realisation that if I didn’t grab the opportunity now – while I am still relatively free of responsibilities – I may have to wait until retirement! So I resolved to take the trip I have been half-planning for many years. Travelling from Cambridge to Australasia, overland, getting to know the grassroots sustainability initiatives being undertaken around the world.

I couldn’t justify travelling by air as the default on this trip, what with my focus on environmental sustainability, so trains and busses will be the status quo – with my longest journey clocking in at 42 hours during the Russian leg of the journey.

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My aims on this journey aretwofold: firstly, to mainstream efforts to tackle environmental and sustainability issues through my blog; and secondly, to become a living connector between organisations and initiatives working in communities and countries thousands of miles apart. To do this, I hope, is to multiply impact of their work in the long-term!

For example, I’ve already been in conversations with Connected Voices – an organisation which stemmed from the annual UN Conference of Parties (COP) climate change negotiations. Their aim is to provide an effective platform by which youth from all countries and backgrounds are able to articulate their demands in the international climate arena through peer representation. To support their mission, I am going to be collecting messages from young people I meet from under-represented countries to add to their platform– raising the international youth voice for unified action against climate change.

I hope this journey will build on all of the experiences in my life, education and career to date to inspire, connect and support even more people to get involved in tackling the environmental issues we face.

Emily Dunning

Emily Dunning has recently left Student Hubs and is embarking on a trans-continental overland journey to connect up grassroots sustainability initiatives. Find out more and follow her travels on her blog - www.seekthechange.org

Tags: Environment & Sustainability


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