WILDLIFE expert and environmental campaigner Chris Packham is backing an event in Dorset aiming to speed up moves to tackle climate change.
BBC Springwatch host Mr Packham, who lives in neighbouring Hampshire, has given his support to Dorset COP 23, which will take place at Dorchester Corn Exchange on September 9.
Dorset COP (Conference of the Parties) 23 has been put together by three climate action groups from the county with the aim of ‘spurring the local community into urgent action to combat the threats posed by climate change and ecological collapse’.
Zero Carbon Dorset, the Dorset Climate Action Network (Dorset CAN) and Sustainable Dorset have joined forces for the event and hope to produce a ‘Dorchester Declaration’ outlining a commitment to tackling the problem.
Laura Baldwin, environmental campaigner and former Olympian, who will open the conference, said: “This event is not only ground-breaking but also of huge importance – not just for Dorset but for community activists everywhere.
“That’s why it hopes to attract people and organisations from right across the county.”
Giles Watts, a coordinator with Dorset CAN, said: “This ground-breaking, community-led event is an attempt to apply the power of the international COPs to local issues and so galvanise Dorset into faster action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.”
The event hopes to attract people and organisations from across Dorset and will close with a declaration of intent to mirror those issued at the international COPs.
The ‘Dorchester Declaration’ will be a commitment to act, advocate and lobby for action on climate change and the environment across the county and will follow a series of talks by high-profile speakers, as well as workshops, short talks, panel discussions and break-out workshops for organisations to collaborate.
Chair of Sustainable Dorset, Jenny Morisetti, said: “This event, a first in the UK we believe, will be Dorset’s very own opportunity for the community to network and have its say on climate and ecological issues.
“It will raise the power and reach of Dorset-based organisations by fostering collaboration, supporting the spread of vital information, and helping organisations to act locally in a way that puts people at the heart of decisions.”
Co-founder of Zero Carbon Dorset, Mark Chivers, added: “While Dorset is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, from rising sea levels to the loss of local species unable to cope with the rising temperatures, globally others are already suffering the consequences of climate change; losing their livelihoods, homes and even lives.
“But by raising awareness of the urgent need to act locally and demonstrate the depth of community commitment to tackling the crises we aim to secure action from all stakeholders and spur both Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Councils to take the lead suggested by the Government’s own Climate Change Committee.”