Playing for Change: Students Navigate Complex Climate Dynamics during UN Summit

Students have managed to lower prospected temperature increase by 2100 from 3.3 °C to 1.8 °C. Thanks to successful negotiations during a UN special summit: role-played by students of Universiteit Leiden, TU Delft, and Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, as part of their Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab program.  

Students from all our LDE Interdisciplinary Thesis Labs were asked: what would you do when UN secretary-general António Guterres would ask you during a summit what actions must be taken to achieve the Paris Agreement goal? What impact would your answer have on other stakeholders and how would you react?  

Students discovered this playing the En-ROADS Climate Action Simulation Game and they played it with passion! Each of them playing the role of a lobby group, making alliances with others, walking away from the table and subtly influencing the sequence of questions raised were among the strategies that were invented on the spot.  


"Playing this game was a clear lesson in systems thinking", a student said. Never knew that systems and processes could be so complex. There are so many interdependencies related to global interdisciplinary sustainability challenges." 

"It was so much fun! Lobbyists of the conventional energy group lobby with clean tech, proposing investments in clean energy, but without discouraging coal and oil consumption. Climate Justice Hawks protesting loud. And supporters of agriculture and forestry proposing actions to plant new forests and compromising a little by decreasing methane emissions from their agriculture." 

"I discovered similar complex systems and interdependent policies and actions tin my own Thesis Lab challenge." 

This makes us even more curious to hear about the interdisciplinary result of the Thesis Labs, which will be presented by students to their case holders on Tuesday June 25th. 

Thanks to the amazing Bas Tuenter, who got the very best out of the group and who played the role of António Guterres excellently.