Climate Action in HE panel

Climate action in Higher Education

Following COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 we brought together students, staff and policy makers in the UK and the Netherlands for an international panel discussion on Wednesday 09 March 2022 at TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. The event served as an opening to the dialogue between Dutch and British Higher Education institutes on climate action and how the higher education field can turn its ambitions into reality. We heard perspectives from the UK and the Netherlands. Students, young professionals, climate activists and Higher Education institutes shared their views and perspectives in an interactive panel discussion. The below questions were addressed:

- How can students, staff, and policy makers practically and adequately approach the problem of climate change?

- What are the barriers that prevent institutions from acting meaningfully and swiftly, and how can these be overcome?

- How can higher education institutions (HEIs) successfully incorporate the SDGs into their programmes to prepare their students for the future and contribute to the fight against climate change?

Watch the recording on the livestream on the TivoliVredenburg YouTube channel.

Panel members

The panel featured the following expert speakers from the UK and the Netherlands:

- Dr Ria Dunkley, Senior Lecturer in Geography, Environment and Sustainability at the University of Glasgow and Climate Ambassador during COP26
- Tim van Hattum, Programme Leader Green Climate Solutions at Wageningen University and Research
- René van Hell
, Director for Inclusive Green Growth, Ambassador for Sustainable Development and Arctic Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
Jouja Maamri, Director of Climate Philanthropy at Impatience Earth and UK Delegate to the G7 Youth Summit
- Tiffanie Septier, Executive Board Member Students for Tomorrow (Studenten voor Morgen)
- Josh Tregale, Climate activist and Coordinator Mock COP26
- Sofie de Wit, Junior Policy Officer – Department of Inclusive Green Growth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands 

The interactive panel discussion was moderated by Aniek Moonen, Chair Dutch Youth Climate Movement (Jonge Klimaatbeweging)

Programme - Wednesday 09 March 2022

14:00 - 14:05   Opening by moderator
14:05 - 14:10   Video message by Sandor Gaastra, Director General Climate and Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate 
14:10 - 14:45   Interactive session with four speakers
14:45 - 15:15   Networking break
15:15 - 15:55   Panel discussion and Q&A
15:55 - 16:00   Thank you and close


The panel discussion is a partnership between the British Council Netherlands, British Embassy The Hague and TivoliVredenburg. It is part of the British Council Climate Connection. The Climate Connection provides new opportunities for young people, policymakers, artists, scientists, early career researchers, teachers, students and academics and business and community leaders across our global network to find creative and collaborative solutions to climate change. Young people are at the centre of this collaborative approach, as we support them to gain the skills and networks to participate in meaningful dialogue and bring about real change for our planet.

Dr Ria Dunkley

Dr Ria Dunkley is a Senior Lecturer in Geography, Environment and Sustainability within the School of Education at the University of Glasgow. Ria was appointed as a Climate Ambassador during COP26 and is currently working with colleagues through the Centre for Sustainable Solutions at the University of Glasgow to advance research on enabling individuals, communities and organisations to initiate sustainable solutions through research, education and partnership.

Ria has investigated people’s relationship with the environment since 2011, following a return to academia from working as an educational researcher for climate change education programmes at the environmental charity and visitor attraction the Eden Project, in Cornwall, UK. Ria has also held research positions at Cardiff University and the University of Warwick. She led research on community-led sustainability, public participation in citizen science and its learning implications and embedding education for sustainability in Higher Education.

Her research examines how the environmental and climate crises are driven by human relationships with the natural world and identifies effective formal and informal pedagogies (known as ecopedagogies) that raise the consciousness of this relationship to strengthen nature connectedness. She is an interdisciplinary researcher, currently collaborating with educators, human geographers, engineers, psychologists, philosophy scholars, geologists, social scientists and pharmacologists. She also works closely with practitioners, including environmental education and interpretation professionals, artistic and creative practitioners, schools, national parks and nature conservation organisations. She is currently exploring through several funded projects the impact of involvement in environmental stewardship, through direct action and environmental monitoring, on ecological knowledge and in increasing public participation in climate change action.

Tim van Hattum

Tim van Hattum has broad experience as consultant, policy advisor, project manager and researcher in the field of integrated water management and climate change. He has lead several (inter)national projects and public private partnerships focussing on innovative and nature based climate solutions. Tim has a large (inter)national network in the business, government and research sector. He finished his MSc in Environmental Science in 1998 and started his career as consultant for Witteveen+Bos consultancy. In 2003 he became policy advisor for a provincial authority and later a regional water authority. Since 2010 he is working at Wageningen Environmental Research as senior project manager and researcher. Currently he is leading the Green Climate Solutions Program at Wageningen Environmental Research that aims to contribute to climate action by providing tailor made climate impact information and evidence base for nature based solutions for mitigation and adaptation.

René van Hell

René van Hell is Director for Inclusive Green Growth, Ambassador for Sustainable Development and Arctic Ambassador, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, since August 2021.

Prior he was the Netherlands Ambassador to Hungary. Starting in November 2012, he was Director for International Business at the Netherlands ministry of Foreign Affairs. Earlier he was appointed in that position in December 2011 at the ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. He served as Deputy Director for Trade Policy and Global issues at the same ministry. He worked from 2004 until September 2008 as Head of Economic Division at the Netherlands Embassy, Washington, DC. From 2000 till 2004 he was the head of an Economist Team at the Economic Policy Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, in The Hague.

He also worked as an economist and advisor at the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the European Union and was Advisor Energy, Development Cooperation and Budget issues at the European Parliament, Brussels/Belgium, Strasbourg/France. René has a Masters in Economics, Business Administration (MSc/drs.) and studied at the University of Amsterdam. Major: international economic relations; industrial and institutional economics: competition and regulation. 

Jouja Maamri

Jouja is a Director of Climate Philanthropy at Impatience Earth, a philanthropic advisory firm that engages with wealth holders to help them respond to the urgency of the climate crisis. She was formerly the Director of Impact at Regenerative Group, an impact investment fund investing in companies that enable a better and more sustainable world. She is also the UK’s Delegate to the 2021 G7 Youth Summit where she represents UK youth on issues of Climate & Environment and co-leads the Future Leaders Network’s delegation to COP26.

Jouja is a Trustee at the New Economics Foundation, and sits on the Crisis’ Venture Studio Advisory Board, as well as Social Finance’s Racial Equity Advisory Group and The Big Issue’s Climate Advisory Group. She is an Ambassador for the Young Trustees Movement, a Young Founding Member of Impact 100 London, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Jouja holds a BA in Political Science & Human Rights from Columbia University, an MSc in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and is an alumna of SIT's International Honors Programme.

Tiffanie Septier

Tiffanie Septier is an Executive Board Member at Students for Tomorrow (Studenten voor Morgen), she is in charge of Sustainable Education. Currently she focusses on projects like developing, a website that serves as a centralised database for all academic studies covering the topic of sustainability and the SustainaBul Ranking 2022, the ranking of the sustainability of universities in the Netherlands. She is actively involved in encouraging higher education institutions to become more sustainable as she believes that sustainability is intrinsically linked to today’s global challenges and that universities play a key role in shaping the leaders of tomorrow.  

Josh Tregale

Josh is a 20 year old climate campaigner studying Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London planning to specialise in renewable energy. He was an Event Coordinator at Mock COP26, an online youth led conference the year COP was postponed, which engaged over 800 young people internationally and had a media reach of over 100 million. Over the past year Josh worked as a Campaign Coordinator continuing this work and promoting youth engagement at COP. As part of this he worked on the Together for Tomorrow event at COP26, the first time education ministers have been convened at a COP. This was wrapped up by his attendance at COP26 where he supported youth engagement and engaged governments and UN agencies. Josh was appointed by the UK COP26 presidency to the Italian Government's Youth4Climate advisory Committee where he joined the Governance Team as a bridge builder for the Driving Ambition Milan summit held alongside Pre-COP. 

Sofie de Wit

Sofie de Wit is Junior Policy Officer – Department of Inclusive Green Growth at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands. Sofie started her position as Junior Policy Officer at the department of Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) in February 2022. Her position includes a dual programme in which she works at the ministry four days a week and studies one day a week at the Radboud University, as part of the Advanced Master in International Development. In her position at IGG she is part of the climate diplomacy team, focusing in particular on climate adaptation. This includes, among others, a mission to improve the quality, quantity and access to adaptation finance.

Prior she worked for the Dutch climate NGO Milieudefensie and German development organisation GIZ as an intern, focusing on climate action and sustainable urban development respectively. She recently graduated from the University of Wageningen in International Development, with a focus on policy, governance, diplomacy and sustainable development, and holds a Bachelors degree in International Relations.