AN ANDOVER schoolgirl has taken part in this month’s COP26 conference in Glasgow as part of her work with a local environmental group.

Andover Trees United youth team member, Maylis Riera, has taken part in a live conversation with members of the Scottish Children’s Parliament and members of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programme from Kenya, Argentina, Tanzania, Puerto Rica and the UK.

Maylis, who is in Year 11 at Winton Community Academy, was one of two young people invited to speak on behalf of Roots & Shoots groups in the UK.

The online event, which took place on Friday, November 5, was part of the ‘Realising a compassionate planet’ conference and was co-hosted by the University of Edinburgh Global Compassion Initiative and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. This conference was about how compassion can help us to deal with climate change and to make a better world.

Speakers included the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark and co-founder of the Eden Project, Sir Tim Smit. In the morning the ethologist and environmentalist, Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, spoke about how compassion had been part of her life and explained how she went into the forest to learn about chimpanzees – and came out of the forest to save them, when she realised how badly their habitat was being destroyed. Along with all the young people taking part, Maylis expressed the importance of involving young people in the debate, of informing them, listening to their ideas and then acting on them.

Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programme is about making positive change happen – for communities, for animals and for the environment. And, through projects, connections are made with many young people in over 65 countries across the world, to help make our world a better place. The programme has a strong connection with the young people of Andover through the work of ATU and core partner schools

Maylis has been a member of Andover Trees United’s Nature in Harmony Exchange Project since its inception in 2020. Maylis spoke about how her experiences had connected her to the natural world and how important this is to developing understanding and compassion for our planet.

Maylis said: “The COP26 Youth Meeting was an opportunity that I will honour highly. It has opened up more chances and meetings with others and I am very appreciative of that. Once again, I thank Andover Trees United and Roots & Shoots for considering me to be one of their representatives of such high importance.

“It truly was a treasurable experience that I hope will help influence many other young people to follow in our footsteps across the area.”

Wendy Davis, founder of Andover Trees United added: “We are honoured to have been asked by Roots & Shoots UK to invite a member of our youth team to take part in the COP26 conversation and are immensely proud of Maylis for her insights and the confidence with which she expressed her thoughts and ideas to the assembled audience of change-makers from around the world.”

Posting to Facebook, a spokesperson for Winton Community Academy said: “With COP26 in the news headlines we have continued to think about how we can be more sustainable at Winton.

“Well done Maylis ‐ we are very proud of you!”