• 10/18/2022
  • Reading time 1 min.

“100 Voices – One Planet” at TUM Sustainability Day

Global impact of the climate crisis

TUM students Ophelia Wach and Vanessa Zwisele lead the student group “100 Voices – One Planet”. In this global environmental project, they are collecting the voices of 100 people from 100 countries sharing how the climate crisis impacts their lives.

TUM students Ophelia Wach and Vanessa Zwisele (left) collect the votes of people from 100 countries. Astrid Eckert / TUM
TUM students Vanessa Zwisele (left) and Ophelia Wach collect "100 voices" from people all over the world.

People from Brazil, Kenya, France and many other countries are submitting short videos for the project. What is “100 Voices – One Planet” all about?

Ophelia Wach: We want to compile the many voices we are receiving from all over the world into a single video. The final documentary will be 16 to 17 minutes long and combine the individual voices to tell a continuous story. Our goal is to show the audience what is important to these people when it comes to the environment and climate protection. One person wants to plant mangrove forests in Vanuatu. Another would like young people to have a greater say in political decisions. These calls to action can create a beautiful narrative.

What do you want to know from people once contact is established?

Vanessa Zwisele: We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible. So we agreed on one single question for all 100 countries: “How does climate change affect you?” We ask the participants to send us a 30-second video.

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Afraid of drowning in her own bedroom: activist Mitzi (23) from the Philippines is one of "100 Voices" from around the world.

And how does it work with all of the languages?

Vanessa Zwisele: We want the people to speak the language that they feel most comfortable with. But we are not saying how they have to do it. Some people are more comfortable using English because they feel that it is better for getting their message across. We also have participants who speak Malagasy or Filipino, for example. And I have to transcribe it. But with the help of our team and our extended networks, it works out. Ideally, we have two people translating the videos to make sure that nothing is lost in translation. And in most cases the participants actually send us their own translations.

Both of you are working on your thesis in the Politics and Technology Masters program at TUM. How do you cope with this double workload?

Ophelia Wach: To explain that, I have to go back to the start of our project. It all started in a course at TUM the first Covid semester – the 2020 summer semester. Today we are an accredited student group. That is something that we’re really proud of. Of course all of the team members are busy people. But we’ve noticed that the project is hugely inspiring and gives us back so much. Normally a course is finished at the end of the semester. So many of the things that we learn and get out of our university classes are over soon. That’s a shame.

Vanessa Zwisele: We’re so happy that we carried on with “100 Voices – One Planet” after the course ended. Whenever any of us get together, we talk about the project. Our hands-on involvement gives us a much better insight into the theoretical knowledge from our classes. We believe: when discussing the climate crisis, the focus should always be on the people affected and their needs.

Ophelia Wach: What made the course different was that it wasn’t a normal seminar with homework and presentations. Instead, we were expected to set up a project or launch an initiative – in other words, to become active in civil society as suggested by the course title: “Civil Society and Technological Change”. Looking back, we have to bear in mind: in the spring of 2020 it wasn’t possible to have in-person classes. So in our climate change project, we wanted to create something that could be seen and heard at all times. And especially in the digital world.

How do you find the people who want to take part in your video project? How do you contact them?

Ophelia Wach: We want to cover every continent. From Nepal to the Philippines, from Argentina to Europe. When searching for people, we always start with our personal contacts who might know people in the countries where we are looking for someone. If that doesn’t work, we try to find people with the help of local NGOs and networks. When selecting countries, we refer to the Germanwatch “Global Climate Risk Index”, which indicates the risk of climate-related loss events in a country over the past 20 years. At the moment we still need around 20 more voices to reach our goal of 100. We are missing some very remote states like Micronesia. And for some reason the Netherlands, too.

Can you give an example?

Ophelia Wach: Our contact in India for instance was set up by one of our fellow students. He simply asked his grandmother when the project was getting started in 2020. And she was happy to take part. That was really exciting because we were getting the viewpoint of another generation. One voice in particular impressed me. A 23-year-old woman from the Philippines tells how she is afraid of drowning in her bedroom. Because there are so many floods and storms in her area, not to mention rising sea levels.

Vanessa Zwisele: The video from Paraguay is the one that has stuck with me. We had actually contacted a lawyer specializing in environmental law. But then she said that her daughter would like to do the video. And then five-year-old Eleanor sat in front of the camera holding up a sign. It said: “El futuro es hoy.” The future is now.

Further information and links
  • The “100 Voices – One Planet” project includes students from countries such as Chile, Colombia, South Korea and Pakistan. The team makes good use of this international profile for networking and finding contacts. 
  • The student group gets together in person once or twice a month and also has weekly online meetings. New members are very welcome. Those interested in joining can send an email to 100voices.oneplanetspam prevention@gmail.com or contact the group via social media.
  • The 100 Voices – One Planet website features an interactive map of the world with the videos released so far.
  • On October 27, 2022, the group will present the project at the first TUM Sustainability Day.

Technical University of Munich

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