This week is Climate Change Week and I spoke with Veronica Persson about her role in our climate change programme, Make the Link – Climate exchange.
The project is run jointly by the Citizenship Foundation and Plan UK and works with students from six different countries (United Kingdom, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Kenya, Malawi, and Senegal). The project is in its second year and is funded by the European Union. The overall goal of the programme is for young people from different countries to increase their awareness, and ability to take action, on climate change through educational lessons and dialogue with students from other countries.
Veronica, who is the Education Officer at the Citizenship Foundation, has been really busy working on this project. Veronica is office based but she is often out at meetings, travelling all over the UK to run teacher trainings and recruiting schools for the programme and working to support the Youth Climate Network – a group of young people who have developed a campaign called One step. Tehseen Mirza 19, who has been working on the campaign says, “We want people to each promise to take one simple step to combat global warming. Our country needs to stop freeloading from the environment.”
One day does not look like the next, this week Veronica has chaired a Virtual Climate Summit over Skype with students from the UK and the Netherlands. It led to some surprising results, the US agreed on reducing their carbon emissions by 50% by 2015. India and the US agreed to work together to combat climate change. The assistant principal at Wymondham college shared what he thought of the event ” I really enjoyed the experience watching our students interact with students in the Hague, discussing some really important issues, sharing ideas and representing the views of other countries its been a fascinating experience!” She has also run a training in Somerset in an eco-centre to introduce the teachers to the resources.
The program works through formal education and youth groups, and uses learning resources that focus on climate change. There is a global version of the learning resources that is translated and adapted for the different countries that use them. The project also uses a website in which students from different countries share and interact around climate change issues.
I think it is a really good way for students to share their ideas about how they can help their environment. Ellie, 17, says “Make the Link – Climate exChange has influenced by seeing how young people across the world are dealing with the issue, is quite inspiring some people are really putting their hearts into it and it is quite inspiring to see that young people do care”. I was curious if students from different countries had different perspectives on climate change. Veronica said that most have similar views, yet they focus on different aspects. For example, she said students in the UK tend to talk more about ways to recycle, and students from Senegal talk more about events they witness like droughts and how climate change has made in impact on their daily lives. This difference demonstrates one reason why it is important for the young people to be able to share their observations and ideas. Since they are able to share their views and opinions they develop a more global view of an issue that affects the whole world, and not just their surrounding area.
The teaching of climate change along with the sharing of ideas between young people of different nations makes this project very unique and important. I think that the communications between the young people helps to promote ideals that are key to citizenship – knowledge, understanding of others, and understanding of oneself within the world.