By Tierney Smith & Daniel Schweimler
RTCC in Durban
Dario-Andri Schwörer and his family tell RTCC about their 10-year journey around the world en-route to COP17, powered entirely by wind, sun and elbow grease.
The Schwörer’s plan was far from simple: to travel across the seven seas to the seven highest summits in the world, crossing every continent using nothing but human and natural power. Far from enduring all this for the thrill of the adventure, the family has been sharing its knowledge of renewable energy and eco-friendly practices with hundreds of schools and building a network of climate ambassadors along the way.
“We travelled to COP17 just sailing, cycling and walking and it took us 10 years. We outfitted our sailing boat to be an example to the cruising world of what can be done with renewable and smart technology. So it is just with the wind and the sun we came here to COP17,” says Dario, the father of the family.
The group’s journey saw them travel across the European peaks, and then by sea across North Africa, through the Panama Canal, to Patagonia – where two of their children were born, through the Pacific Ocean, to Tahiti and Australia, where their son was born and to Asia, where in Singapore the family was joined by their youngest daughter.
On board the family boat, the eco-friendliness continues, with solar panels providing energy when it’s sunny and wind turbines filling-in when it is gusty.
The family say they also adapt their daily patterns to make the most of the natural sunlight, rising when the sun does and going to bed as it sets in the evening.
As they travelled, the expedition team visited schools across the world to share with them their experience and best practices in climate protection.
Dario says: “We have met with 60,000 students so far and have taught them about all the positive examples that we collected on the way. The most important thing we do is the climate solution contest.”
For primary schools this is in the form of an art competition, as they draw a postcard of their ideas of climate change and the environment – many of which now decorate the family’s boat.
And for college and university students, the expedition team runs a Top to Top Climate Solutions Award that aims to bring students together in 2013 for a climate expedition – before sending them back into the world as climate ambassadors.
“It is such a strong network. They become Top to Top ambassadors. So now we have Top to Top in Mauritius, Singapore, India and Shanghai. These ambassadors then go into schools and approach the students to participate in this award and through this we always have the best practice examples to inspire more and more students and children,” says Dario.
As his family travels into the schools on their bicycles he says they grab the students’ attention and lead by example. But the dream doesn’t stop there. Next year Dario wants to see the concept of travelling by foot and bike adopted by all of the people attending the COP18 conference.
“For the next COP it would be great if there was an obligation that it has to be car free for the two weeks. Only public transport, cycling and walking,” he says. “Imagine the sign it would send to the world. I think it is really important that these delegates don’t just say what the people in the street should do. It is really important that they do it first.”