14-16 April, 2021 Goodwill Meridian Fund and Living Lab Russia&CIS change agency conducted an eco-module within XIX International Conference of Young Scholars “Development Vectors of Modern Russia” traditionally held at the Moscow Hight School of Social and Economic Sciences (MSSES).
Since 2002, Russia’s young scientists, master students and university have participated in the program of the scientific-practical conference “Vectors”. The program has always addressed the world’s most pressing, most important issues young people have to deal with. This year’s agenda is no exception. The conference title reflects what the world came to face in 2020: “The Future Torn Apart: Forecasts, Projects, Catastrophes, Utopias”.
• Conference webpage (English): http://msses.vectors.tilda.ws/en
• Eco-module webpage (Russian): https://www.msses.ru/announcement/eko-vektory-budushchego/
Russian and international scientists tried to come up with answers to the fundamental question: what future awaits us? (Or, in the words of the conference: “What is the future of the fundamental social institutions and forms of social life such as the state, the city and the people?”).
Of course, such conversation would have been impossible without addressing the topics of climate change and sustainable development. The eco-module turned into a dedicated “vector” of the conference, fully supported by Goodwill Meridian Fund whose very mission is to provide environmental education to young people.
The eco-module included a seminar and an interactive climate game based on the EN-ROADS climate action simulator plus an online screening of the documentary “We RiseUp”.
The Living Lab change agency is the first Russian ambassador for EN-ROADS. Developed by a team of scientists from MIT and Climate Interactive, the simulator is one of the most modern and complete (as well as constantly updated) climate science databases able to model all possible related actions and their consequences until 2100.
What will happen if in 2030 we stop building coal plants, set a carbon price at $50 and reduce methane emissions by 25%? What will happen to the temperature? What will happen to CO2 emissions? And what about the cost of energy? If we change the order of actions – will it matter? The most complex system dynamics, calculations and forecasts of the world scientists are analyzed to provide a clear vision of all the consequences to our actions. The simulator is not only used in gaming (as one may suppose). EN-ROADS is also applied by the UN, the US Congress, the Chinese government and a dozen other entities in different countries when making political forecasts.
Yet, as one of the EN-ROADS founders, John Sterman, has pointed out, “Research demonstrates that showing people mere research doesn’t work.” That is why a simulator of our various possible futures had been introduced in the form of an interactive role-playing game.
On April 15, the “Emergency UN Summit” was held in the auditorium of the MSSES in Moscow. During the game all the participants (about 30 young scientists) had to try on new roles. They turned into oil company director, presidents, farmers, activists etc. Not only did they have to work together to lower the Earth’s temperature by 1.5 degrees by 2100. They also had to simultaneously pursue and protect their interests! And that turns out to be so much more difficult.
Multiple rounds of negotiations, discussions, disputes, seeking a compromise … The participants fought for every tenth degree, understanding more and more how hard it is to bring different interests of different stakeholders together. They realized how much could and should be done for the sake of our common future. They realized that in this huge challenge there is a part for every one of us.
Realizing the enormity of such a task and how interconnected everything in the world is, it is easy to lose heart at first. To prove that the task is indeed achievable, “We RiseUp,” a thematic documentary by Michael Sean Conaway was shown (first-time in Russia) to the audience of about fifty participants of the eco-module.
The film-movement brought together social entrepreneurs from different countries who firmly believe that every one of us can take matters into his/her own hands and initiate groundbreaking changes. This film is for those who dream of making the world a better place and ready to make their dreams a reality. Moreover, the film shows us the real people who are already doing it this very moment.
Support and motivation of the younger generation to protect the environment is part of our Mission at Goodwill Meridian Fund. We are quite sure that following the conference, the eco-vector participants’ outlook on the future has become more confident, more practical and more optimistic!