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The Open University champions COP26 with ‘Green Zone’ event exploring culture, citizens and climate

The Open University is hosting a unique event at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) as one of several initiatives to mark its commitment to responding to the climate crisis.  

The COP26 will bring together parties from across the world to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

The Open University will host a 90-minute series of short reflections on ‘Ancient Knowledge and Modern Thinking: Climate Perspectives in Folk Art’ held in partnership with Glasgow Life. Taking place on 7th November, these reflections will feature indigenous artists and experts from the OU and Glasgow Life, exploring connections between culture, citizens and climate by examining three contrasting works of art from Glasgow Museums’ World Cultures collection. 

The Open University has official observer status at COP26 and will learn from the conference to inform the university’s wider sustainability mission and inspire students and staff to take action. 

The Open University is committed to being ‘net zero’ by 2050 and will achieve net zero for what are known as scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, investing millions of pounds to achieve this. The University has also committed to divestment from fossil fuels, on which work has started and will complete by 2023. 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Blackman said, ‘It is a great privilege to offer a “culture and science” perspective on the impacts of climate change in such a hugely significant event as COP26.  Climate change and its ecological consequences are the biggest challenges facing humanity. In response, our sustainability vision at The Open University is to create and share knowledge and learning to realise social and environmental justice. 

 ‘Through the power of learning we collaborate with our stakeholders to achieve impact across society in response to the sustainability crisis. This permeates everything we do, from exploring new frontiers in understanding Earth's atmosphere, its ecosystems and its people, to the democratisation of learning and knowledge. The new OU Strategy for 2022-2027 directly addresses sustainability and the need to support our students and staff to become agents for the change that is needed. 

 ‘Through our mission to be “open to people, places, methods and ideas” we are committed to inspiring action via our role as an educator and to ensuring that everything we do is sustainable.  We will draw on our unique heritage of over 50 years as the only university operating across the UK’s four nations, reaching learners at a distance and engaging mass public audiences through our long-standing media partnerships’. 

More locally in Northern Ireland, John D’Arcy, National Director, has outlined the work the OU is committed to doing in relation to sustainability across the nation;

“The Open University in Northern Ireland is currently reviewing its working practices to ensure that how it operates is sustainable and championing best practice across Ireland.  We are committed to educating on local issues in relation to sustainability and climate change and will work to influence policy in whatever way we can and apply our world leading research to such areas.  We hope to reveal more about our commitments in the months that lie ahead and have exciting plans to work on societal challenges within Northern Ireland.”


For information on our Green Zone Event:

A picture of Christine Murphy who has fair curly hair and is smiling and wearing a white jumper

For media enquiries please contact:

Christine Murphy, Communications Manager

Tel 028 9053 6219