ESF Professor Works to Build Community at COP21
Dr. Jack Manno runs workshops at ‘Climate Generations’
Posted March 2016
When world leaders gathered in Paris in December to put together an unprecedented global climate agreement, ESF Professor Jack Manno was next door, helping people learn to communicate with each other so they can take a grassroots approach to solving the challenge of climate change.
"Our goal was to get people to recognize that we are never going to solve the climate problem unless we address the issues that keep us separate from one another: racism, classism, the oppression of women and male dominance, among many others," he said.
Manno spent 10 days in Paris, organizing and speaking at workshops sponsored by Sustaining All Life, an international grassroots organization that works to end climate change within the context of ending divisions among people. He was one of 58 delegates who attended the event on behalf of the organization. Other participants were indigenous peoples from around the world and residents of nations that included New Zealand, the Philippines, France, England, Norway and Africa.
Manno recently shared his experience with the campus community this semester as part of the Environmental Studies Colloquium Series. The title of his presentation was "From the Earth Summit (1992, Rio) to COP-21 (2015, Paris): One ESF Professor's Quest to get the not-so-United Nations to Tackle the Most Basic Human Causes of Climate Change."
He discussed his work with Sustaining All Life and offered insights into how environmental destruction is deeply connected to oppression and the need to create opportunities for the voices of the oppressed to be heard.
The project Manno worked on in Paris was headquartered in an expansive convention center - the Climate Generations area - that was open to the general public and featured 20 interactive educational exhibitions, film screenings, speakers and space for hundreds of meetings that occurred while the negotiations were underway at COP21, the United Nations climate conference.
In discussing his participation in the international event, Manno points out the environmental and climate movement is predominantly white, middle class and from the "global north," but the people most vulnerable and affected by climate change and environmental degradation are overwhelmingly the people of the "global south." "It's not an accident that the majority of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is historically from white, rich countries and the people that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change are people of the global majority of the world," he said at the colloquium. Environmental organizations would be more effective if they included the leadership of the people most affected, he said, but oppressive patterns of behavior and communication prevent that from happening.
"Our work is based on models of peer listening and key theoretical understanding of how various oppressions operate and how it is possible to heal the rifts between people," Manno said.
In Paris, he spoke at a workshop called, "Reclaiming the World: The Environment and People Raised Poor and Working Class," and organized another session called "Young People at the Forefront of the Climate Movement." He also had a hand in what he called "a whole bunch of ad hoc workshops that happened because of the discussions that were going on."
"We were asked to work with different groups to address the tensions between them that are undermining the capacity of those who work to fight climate change," Manno said. "Our job was to get people to talk to each other."
Participants told stories about how climate change is affecting life in their communities. "Many of them responded to what we were doing by saying, 'Finally someone is listening to us,'" he said.
The sessions put people's experiences - not just scientific data - at the center of the climate change debate. It changes the dynamics, Manno said, when stories build connections among people. "If you are listened to well, you can make progress," he said. "Your mind works better when someone is actually listening to you."
"We were experimenting to see if our presence and our ability to get people to connect with and listen to each other would make a difference," Manno said. "And it seemed to but we had no way to measure that."
ESF Faculty Recognized for Excellence and Achievement
- The Ocean Is Losing Its BreathESF scientist joins team in revealing dangers and solutions
- Synthetic Protein Could Be Key in Battle against DiseaseESF scientists contribute to new publication
- Dr. James Gibbs Named SUNY Distinguished ProfessorESF professor earns highest faculty rank
- ‘Extinct’ Floreana Tortoise Species Could Return to Galapagos ESF professor contributes to restoration program
- NSF Grant Funds ESF Ecologist’s Gypsy Moth ResearchDr. Dylan Parry investigates spread of invasive species
- Martin Hogue Receives Teaching AwardCited for dedication to students, professionalism
- Dr. John Farrell Named Exemplary Researcher at ESFDirector of Thousand Islands Biological Station recognized for aquatic research
- ESF Staff, Faculty Honored by Chancellor Commitment to students, professionalism recognized
- ESF Professor Co-authors Declaration to Support Indigenous ScienceStatement endorsed by over 1500 indigenous scientists and allies
- Farther from the Forest: ‘Eye-opening’ Study Shows Rural U.S. Loses Forests Faster than CitiesStudy overturns conventional wisdom about forest loss
- ESF Professor Awarded Research GrantInnovations in green building construction to be studied
- Former ESF President Whaley Honored by NY Bar AssociationState bar group bestows Environmental Law Section award
- ESF Chemistry Professor Appointed VP for ResearchChristopher Nomura aims to increase collaboration
- Dr. Stewart Diemont Receives Teaching AwardCited for creativity, contributions to profession
- ESF Professor Works to Build Community at COP21Dr. Jack Manno runs workshops at ‘Climate Generations’
- Malmsheimer Shares Sustainability Expertise with European PolicymakersFaculty member meets with leaders in Brussels, London
- Oneida Lake Subject of New BookProfessor Donald Stewart co-edits book on lake’s history, ecology
- Professor’s Book Ranks as ‘Outstanding Academic Title’Jack Manno, co-editors address the end of fossil fuels
- Professional Society Honors ESF Landscape ArchitectRichard Hawks named Distinguished Senior Practitioner, Academic Practice
- Dr. Georgios Mountrakis Honored as Exemplary ResearcherResearcher presents Adaptive Peaks Seminar
- Endreny Receives Fulbright Award as Distinguished Chair in ItalyERE chair to serve semester at Parthenope University in Naples
- ESF Faculty, Staff Honored by SUNY ChancellorCommitment to students, professionalism recognized
- ESF Forest Manager Honored by SAFBruce Breitmeyer named Fellow
- Dr. Robert MalmsheimerESF College Foundation Award for Exceptional Achievement in Teaching
- Dr. Kimberly SchulzExemplary Researcher
- Dr. Christopher NomuraExemplary Researcher
- Dr. Lindi QuackenbushESF College Foundation Award for Exceptional Achievement in Teaching winner
- Ken TissESF College Foundation Award for Exceptional Achievement in Teaching winner
- Greg BoyerExemplary Researcher, Chemistry
- George CurryKennedy Distinguished Faculty Chair in Landscape Architecture
- Dr. Robin KimmererDirector, ESF Center for Native Peoples
- Dr. James GibbsDistinguished teacher, honored researcher
- Dr. David KieberExemplary Researcher, Environmental Chemistry