Climate Youth Engagement

 

Society needs citizens who understand the climate system and know how to apply that knowledge in their careers and in their engagement as active members of their communities. (USGCRP Climate Literacy, 2009)

 

As part of the White House Climate Education and Literacy Initiative (CELI), launched in December 2014 to connect students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change new collaborations were formed focused on youth engagement on climate change.  Youth and educators are asked to join the conversation at #Youth4Climate from November 12th to December 12th, 2015 as part of the COP21 conference in Paris. All major events can be found here.

A group of U.S. federal agencies and organizations, including The #Youth4Climate social media campaign is an effort led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of Energy, the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), the CLEAN Network, The Wild Center, the World Bank Group’s global partnership program Connect4Climate, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, Alliance for Climate EducationClimate InteractiveEarth Day NetworkNational Wildlife Federation and others have come together to form the #Youth4Climate - Road to COP21 initiative. The #Youth4Climate initiative is working to connect some of these CELI commitments: These actions build on other collaborators working to connect students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change.

Events
The map highlights youth engagement efforts from Association of Science Technology Center sites in Argentina, Finland, India, South Africa, and, as well as science centers, schools, and other institutions in the United States.

View event map>>

Case Studies
The case studies showcase models related to climate and/or energy literacy, education, and engagement in the United States and internationally, particularly highlighting the youth initiated  actions and initiatives.

See case studies >>

Youth Engagement on Climate Blog
These blogs features updates, stories, and testimonials from the the #Youth4Climate initiative

Read partner blogs >>

COP21 and Beyond

The value of the #Youth4Climate initiative is to share Youth engagement programs with others across the United States and the world as examples of emerging best practices as they develop.  Interested parties can explore these case studiesevents, and blogs to listen to the youth voice, learn how these innovative programs were designed, and connect with them if they want to collaborate.

As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says in Article 6, education contributes to the solutions being developed to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.

“The solutions to climate change are also the paths to a safer, healthier, cleaner and more prosperous future for all. To see this and to understand what needs to be done requires a sharp and sustained focus on education, training and public awareness in all countries and at all levels of government, society and enterprise.” UNFCCC

Why Youth?

International, youth-led efforts to address the causes and effects of climate change are widespread and well documented. Youth in action on climate change: inspirations for around the world, a report released by the United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate in May, 2013, highlights some of the youth focused efforts that are taking place in countries all around the globe.  According to the report, “The world is experiencing a rising youth population.  This new generation has an increasingly strong social and environmental awareness, the energy and knowledge to lead our societies towards a low carbon and climate resilient future.  Young people are actively engaged at local, national and global levels in raising awareness, running educational programmes, conserving our nature, promoting renewable energy, adopting environmentally friendly practices and implementing adaption and mitigation projects.”   The publication highlights projects focused on reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, projects focused on helping people adapt to changes and prepare to respond to disasters, projects that provide education and training for youth leaders, projects that increase awareness of climate change related topics, and projects that engage youth as participants in decision-making and policy-making related to climate change.

Examples of projects and programs highlighted in the publication include a bamboo bicycle project in Ghana which promotes economic development, reduced energy use and sustainable transportation alternative projects to help strengthen schools against cyclones in Madagascar and typhoons in the Philippines. These educational programs bring youth together from different countries to help them learn about local environmental issues through participation in a “youth-led virtual classroom,” a challenge badge program which educates youth on food security issues related to climate change, energy conservation programs in China and programs that engage youth in policy-making such as the Greenbits Initiative.  These programs and projects exemplify the wide variety of ways that youth are currently engaging in efforts to address climate change around the world.  In many of the programs highlighted in the publication, youth and adults work together in partnerships to create change in communities, nations and organizations.

Why Engage?

Engagement is often the first part of the educational process.  It starts with as John Dewey said in 1930s with a “sense of a perplexing situation.” The BSCS 5E Instructional Model built on this model to add engagement as the first stage in the learning cycle to increase their interest in science, scientific reasoning, and mastery of subject matter.  Engagement is an important aspect of education.  In climate education, innovative techniques and engagement practices are needed to connect with both formal and informal “audiences and enlist public support [and interest] on this issue.” (National Parks Service, Climate Change Communication in National Parks)