Environmental advocates and the incumbent Lord Mayor joined children and staff from eight Coventry schools for a day of thought-provoking talks and activities to show the next generation how they can take better care of the planet.

Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School, which is part of the Romero Catholic Academy, welcomed sustainability experts from Severn Trent, Coventry City Council, as well as Cllr Kevin Maton in one of his first appearances as Lord Mayor of Coventry, for Romero Catholic Academy’s inaugural Eco Conference.

The day, which is set to be an annual academy-wide forum to address climate change and how to save the planet, was organised after students at Corpus Christi wrote to the senior leadership team at Romero Catholic Academy to ask what they are doing in response to the challenges raised at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

The conference began with an address from Cllr Maton and featured talks from Bret Willers, Head of Climate Change and Sustainability at Coventry City Council, who ran through the origins of climate change and what we can do to reduce our impact on the planet, and Ricky Dallow, Commonwealth Forest Delivery Manager at Severn Trent, who introduced Corpus Christi’s Tiny Forest to visitors from across the Romero Academy.

Corpus Christi’s Tiny Forest is one of 72 sites planted across the Midlands in celebration of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. As Birmingham 2022’s Official Nature & Carbon Neutral Supporter, Severn Trent, with support from local communities and environmental charity Earthwatch Europe, has created the tennis-court-sized forests across its region this year, one for each of the nations and territories competing in the Games.

Each Tiny Forest is made up of native tree species that are threatened by deforestation across the globe to raise awareness of the importance of protecting nature. A total of 600 trees were planted at the Corpus Christi school on Langbank Avenue, including including Oak, Cherry and Lime.

Hannah Thompson, Trainee Year 6 Teacher at Corpus Christi, said: “I’m very passionate about the environment and I was delighted to be asked by the senior leadership team at Romero to coordinate the event. It was amazing to bring so many interested parties together and we appreciate the support from all concerned.

“In response to COP26 and the children who raised concerns about the environment, we created a committee made up of staff from the Academy who have been instrumental in making our first Eco Conference a reality.

“We’ve had some incredible guest speakers here today and some enthusiastic responses from the children.

“We hope that this can be an annual event and that each year we raise the bar for environmental awareness across the Romero Academy to encourage real change.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change, said: “I’m really pleased that these young students are so interested in what they can do to address climate change.

“It’s a hot topic for us all and one that really matters to this generation. Coventry is leading the green industrial revolution and projects like Coventry Very Light Rail, all electric bus city and our ambition to install more on street electric charge points shows what ambition we have to cut carbon emissions. 

“Also this ground breaking innovations will lead to the jobs of the future so I hope the students were also inspire to think about how they could play their part in positive change in the future too.”

Ricky Dallow, Commonwealth Forest Delivery Manager at Severn Trent, said: “As a company that takes care of one of life’s essentials, we’re really passionate about making a positive impact on the communities and the environment where we live and work and these Tiny Forests are going to be a real asset to the Midlands.  

“These Tiny Forests will they help to deliver a lasting legacy for the Games and create inspiring outdoor classrooms allowing children to learn first-hand about nature and the environment.” 

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