You are here

  1. Home
  2. Future sustainability leaders attend Mock COP28

Future sustainability leaders attend Mock COP28

Back Row: Catriona Willis, Highland One World; Cllr Karl Rosie, Chair of the Climate Change committee; Council Leader Cllr Raymond Bremner; Gemma Burnside, Open University. Front Row: Riley McLeod-Taylor (16), Sophie Lambert (16), Mark Fernando (17), Ella Paterson (17) and Adnan Hussain (17)

Ahead of COP 28 taking place in Dubai, secondary schools from across Highland and Moray came together earlier this week for their own mock conference to have a voice and share the ambition of young people working for a fairer and more sustainable world.

Organised by The Open University (OU) in Scotland with Highland One World Global Learning Centre, Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highlands (DYWICH) and Highland Council, the event at Highland Council Chambers in Inverness on 27 November brought together fifth and sixth-year pupils to represent and negotiate on behalf of chosen countries and organisations while trying to make a difference in the battle against climate change.

Each school made up a country or organisation delegation and take part in three rounds of lively negotiations with the aim of reaching a better deal for people and the planet.

Gemma Burnside, Partnership Manager at the OU and lead organiser of the event, commented:

“At The Open University in Scotland it is a key priority for us to contribute to environmental sustainability and to the debate around it in Scottish society. There are no quick fix solutions to climate change and it requires all of us to get to grips with the issues, if we are to make an impactful change.”

“I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to host the Mock COP again in 2023. The event gives pupils the opportunity to gain a better understanding of climate change and democracy, equipping them with key tools to lead the sustainability debate in future.”

Launched as a virtual event to support COP26 in 2021 and then moving to an in-person event in 2022, the Open University in Scotland’s Mock COP has expanded from four schools taking part in its first year to 12 schools attending in 2023.

At the event, pupils also had the opportunity to hear from academics and representatives who have attended previous conferences and will be attending COP28. Dr Leslie Mabon, lecturer in Environmental Systems at the School of Engineering and Innovation at The Open University shares his thoughts on Mock COP28 in the video below.

Sandra McCaughey, Interim Programme Manager at DYWICH, said:

“With demand for green jobs and skills expected to increase rapidly over the next few years, due to policy, legislative changes and consumer choice, we feel it’s important that we provide opportunities for our young people across the Highland region to take part in the climate change debate, share their voice and help shape the future. Taking part in an event like this also allows pupils to gain real world of work experience and valuable skills in communication, debating and team work.”

Students inside the Highland Council Chamber for Mock COP28

Catriona Willis, Coordinator at Highland One World, said:

"Young people are understandably concerned about the climate emergency and what this means for their future. The Mock COP has been providing an excellent platform for participants to consider alternative futures, while developing important Global Citizenship skills including critical and systems thinking, political literacy, communication, empathy, and a belief that people can bring about positive change."

The activities on the day have been shared by the organisers and participating schools on social media under #MockCOP28.

Photos by Alison White Photography

1 December 2023


Darren McGarvey © Tern Television Productions

New OU/BBC series' unflinching look at public services

A new three-part series co-produced by the OU and BBC follows Scottish writer and rapper Darren McGarvey as he takes an unflinching look at the UK’s public services.

27th February 2024
The word 'Scots' in Scrabble letters

First teacher training course to embed Scots language

The OU in Scotland and Education Scotland have created a course for teachers on how to include Scots language and culture in their classrooms.

6th February 2024
See all

Media contacts

Media enquiries
OU in Scotland Media Relations
Call 0131 549 7932

OU UK Press Office:
Call 01908 654316

07901 515 891

Visit our OU UK news site


Sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter, Open Outlook. 

Subscribe for Newsletter