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Footprint 2019 – A Climate Change Conference for All

Footprint 2019 was the second Footprint event, it started in 2018 by postgrad student Sarah Mercer. Our aim is to involve all members of the Durham community; students, staff and local residents alike, in open discussion and debate around climate change and environmental issues. The free two-day event on 13-14th June in Durham Town Hall had speakers and workshop leaders from all over the country leading interactive talks, workshops and performances.

Durham Town Hall, the venue for this year’s event

With increasing public awareness about climate change, we wanted Footprint to have a positive and hopeful message. By promoting direct action on any scale, we hoped to show people that there are lots that can be done to change their lives in a meaningful way to help save our world. The range of talks were interactive and aimed to reflect the many different ways climate change can affect us all. A talk by Global Greengrants Fund UK looked at how women, indigenous communities and the worlds’ poorest will be disproportionately impacted by climate change, explaining how environmental action is equally a humanitarian concern. Kaleidoscopic art by local artist Diane Watson made using plastic waste found on her daily beach walks drew attention to how our waste doesn’t disappear, it just becomes a problem elsewhere.

Diane Watson’s incredible art made from plastic waste. (photo credit Diane Watson)

The response to our efforts was fantastic and it was really amazing to see our year of hard work come together with so many attendees and lots of engagement and interaction. Topics covered everything from food waste and the future of energy generation to sustainable fashion and conservation. Our two keynote speakers each day were Doug Allan, famously David Attenborough’s favourite wildlife cameraman, and David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government. Both gave insightful and inspiring talks, Doug focusing on his experiences in the Arctic and Antarctic and the dangers facing our poles, while David discussed the current environmental situation and his current role in environmental policy and technological solutions.

Footprint 2019 concluded with our activism forum, a tradition carried on from last year. This was an opportunity for all attendees to think about how they hoped the world would look in 30 years and what was needed for those dreams to be achieved. We hope the exercise was thought provoking as well as fun, and that people felt energised to make changes in their lives and local communities.

None of Footprint 2019 would have been possible without our dedicated organisers, amazing volunteers and financial sponsorship. This is just the start of Footprint and Footprint 2020 is currently on the horizon for next year. We are looking for anyone interested in being a co-organiser or on-the-day volunteer, with all welcome to get involved. With 2020 being a significant year for all countries involved in the 2015 Paris climate summit, and to many a deadline for global action on climate change, it is sure to be a really exciting conference to get involved in.

For more information on Footprint 2019 have a look at You can register your interest for Footprint 2020 via email or through Facebook @footprintconference.

Jessica Chadwick

Biology undergraduate at Mary’s about to enter her fourth year. Part of the organising team behind Footprint 2019 and a keen environmentalist as well as cheerleader and rugby player.
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