Climate expert tells BIS students ‘you fight for your rights’
Bavarian International School’s ‘Sustainability Summit’ connects students with experts, fosters innovation
For the fourth year in a row, the Bavarian International School hosted the BIS Sustainability Summit. The event brings nearly 100 secondary school students together with external experts in topics related to climate protection and sustainable living. Students are then asked to develop their own innovative solutions to living sustainably, and to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. The winning team receives support from the school to bring their idea to life.
The winning team, called ‘Systematic Seaweed,’ convinced the judges
The BIS Sustainability Summit aims to connect inspiration with innovation, giving Grade 9 students the opportunity to contemplate what is needed to turn a ‘blue sky vision’ into reality, as well as how to convince others to support your plans.
Previous winning projects have gone on to significantly impact the school, its culture and commitment to sustainability. Two BIS projects were awarded the ‘Climate Heroes Award’ and 20,000 Euros collectively by Arvantis Social Foundation in 2022.
“It’s exciting to see the progression of past winning projects,” said Emma Morris, a teacher at BIS and the leader of the Eco-Schools project. “This year’s Grade 9 students were highly motivated and worked dynamically as teams. They are the most impressive cohort yet in terms of demonstrating their collaboration skills.”
International school inspiration
The day began with three guest speakers; each an expert in their various fields. Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Höppe, expert for natural perils, climate change and biometeorology, spoke about climate change and climate justice around the world. He shared multiple cases of legal action taken by less wealthy countries as well as young activists against companies and countries for their contributions to climate change.
From left to right: Aline Pronnet, Günes Seyfarth, Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Höppe
“Your generation has taken responsibility and you fight for your rights,” said Mr. Höppe.
Next to take the stage was Günes Seyfarth, founder of Community Kitchen Munich, who spoke passionately about the connection between honesty and action, as well as the importance of daily habits and awareness in supporting sustainable living.
“Are you honest?” Ms. Seyfarth asked the room of students. “When you hear all of these facts about climate change, do you really want to do something about it? We need more honesty!”
Community Kitchen is a social organisation and business focused on reducing food waste by ‘rescuing’ food that would otherwise end up in the trash. The group prepares meals made from at least 97% rescued food
The final speaker was Aline Pronnet, a zero waste coach and consultant who has lived plastic free since 2010. She is the author of a popular blog and gives lectures and workshops in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
“What would it be like to know that you are no longer part of the problem?” asked Ms. Pronnet.
"The point of living zero-waste is to engage for a world in which we can live sustainably, healthily and in peace. It is about treating the earth, plants and animals with respect, that means humans too.”
Students innovating for sustainable living
Following the guest speaker session, students broke out into teams to start working on their innovations to support sustainability.
Emma Morris working with BIS students
The top four projects competed in a final judging round, which took place in the chapel of the Haimhausen castle, part of the campus of BIS.
The winning team, called ‘Systematic Seaweed,’ convinced the judges with plans of engaging the community to reduce meat and dairy in the school cafeteria, as well as limiting or removing plastic packaging of products sold in the school.
“Grace, Kiki, Marillia, Zoe, Marie and Alex were clear leaders with their dynamic proposal to inspire change within our school community towards healthier living,” said Ms. Morris. “Their proposal makes connections between students, parents, staff and our current catering partner, to create sustainable and tasty food.”