Economy vs Environment Conference

13 November 2020

Today, OHS is hosting its first ever virtual conference entitled ‘What can our generation do to make the economy work for the environment?’

Devised and organised by Emma in Year 13, the conference will run for the entire day and includes talks from 10 leading experts on the environment, followed by question and answer sessions.

Attended by our Sixth Form Economists and Geographers, the invitation has also been extended to our fellow GDST schools, as well as local state schools. The reception was incredibly positive, and we’re thrilled that over 20 other schools will be joining us today.

Emma, who is studying Economics, Latin, Maths and Further Maths at A-Level, and hopes to study Land Economy or Economics at University, spoke to us about why she decided to establish this conference and what she hopes to achieve:

During lockdown, we’ve all had a lot of time to think about what our priorities are. Whilst many recognise the urgency of environmental challenges, it’s been hard to keep up the discussion on how to practically achieve the changes needed. This conference looks for constructive strategies we can all adopt, as individuals or ultimately as decision-makers of the future, to make a difference. I feel we must integrate this range of issues in our outlook, whatever we’re doing in life. We are very fortunate to be in a position to approach people who are motivated to support young people like myself in achieving a sustainable future.

We are taking the specific circumstances of this time of pandemic into account and are able to turn them to our advantage. With a virtual conference, we can bring together both more participants from schools locally and across the country in the GDST network and beyond, as well as thought leaders and experts in the field, wherever they are located, without having to magnify their carbon footprint by travelling to a specific venue.

Personally, I’d like to accomplish something that the school can be proud of and hopefully build on in coming years. As I’m in my final year at Oxford High, I believe that myself and my peers should, at this time in our school career, reach out to equip ourselves with the knowledge and drive to make a difference as we go out into the world.

It would be easy to do nothing but the environment is too important to be ignored.

We also spoke to our Head of Economics & Politics, Mr Gallacher, who has been highly involved in the organisation of the conference, working with Emma to ensure its success.

“Emma’s conference is a fantastic way to inspire her generation on how to make a difference to the issues of our time. Her dedication, which saw her contact leading global experts and persuade them of the need to share ideas with sixth formers, is truly humbling.  She has assembled a world-class set of speakers: 6 from Oxford University; 2 from Cambridge University; an OHS parent who lectures at Reading University; and an alumna, who works for an organisation which lobbies governments about the need to tackle climate change. At a time when the issue of the environment has been pushed off centre-stage, Emma’s conference will showcase practical measures her generation can take to make a difference to climate change, and will allow the leaders of tomorrow to focus on this vital issue today.

Many of our students have shown how much they care about the environment; Emma, though, is making a real difference to the debate.  As a teacher at Oxford High School, it has been a privilege to walk alongside her in this journey, as she sets the agenda on the environment that our generation has too often overlooked.  She is simply an amazing individual who has organised the best line-up of speakers I have ever seen.  She really is an utter legend!”

Given the magnitude of the event, as well as the importance of the issues being discussed, it’s no surprise that today’s conference has received media interest. This morning, an article was published in the Oxford Mail, both online and in print, which talks a little bit about Emma’s background and her reasons for establishing the conference. Then, this afternoon, Emma was invited to speak live on BBC Radio Oxford; an opportunity that she met with her usual enthusiasm and positive attitude!

A huge congratulations to Emma for organising this event on such an important and worthwhile topic!


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