We need empowering climate education – and we need it now. That’s the message that young changemakers from all over the world will deliver from COP26 in Glasgow next month, streaming a global teach-in for school students. Sarah Humphrys reports
Was it HG Wells who claimed that civilisation is in a constant race between education and catastrophe? With the greatest existential crisis of all time unfolding around us, never has the catastrophe Wells warned of felt so real, or the need to inform and empower people felt so urgent.
Non-profit organisation Project Drawdown has worked out that better education and health could reduce the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions by more than 80 billion tonnes over the next 30 years. The calculation, based on empowering women to increase their communities’ resilience, indicates the enormous power of education.
Numerous organisations – Future Proof Ed, Reboot the Future and Teach the Future – have grasped the reality of this. And hundreds of global supporters signed EarthDay.org’s letter calling for compulsory climate and environmental education.
The trouble with the climate emergency is that just giving people facts isn’t working. Statistics, data sets and bar charts do not inspire people to take ownership, alter their behaviour and drive for change.
Worse, tired clichés, uncompelling narratives and stale slideshows leave us feeling alienated, disengaged and hopeless. Academic jargon isolates the people who could become our communities’ most influential changemakers from the best sources of truth.
A live learn-in
As a young person, I feel let down by this. I feel ill-equipped. I feel angry. I feel frightened. And I’m not alone.
Which is where AimHi comes in. AimHi Earth is an education-to-action hub on a mission to transform global understanding of climate and nature. We are doing this in a way that leads to genuine understanding, and so real behavioural change, focusing on context, emotions and stories.
Working with Cambridge Zero and the Eden Project, AimHi Earth brings together top-level scientists and educators, behavioural psychologists, expert communicators and world-class storytellers, to create live-learning experiences; how to understand the climate and nature crisis, how to talk about it and how to make a difference.
In November, we’re bringing all this to COP26.
We are organising the Great Big Live Lesson for Climate and Nature from COP26 with partners including World’s Largest Lesson and Nature4Climate. This massive, live and interactive climate lesson will celebrate nature and focus on solutions, co-hosted by YOUTHTOPIA’S global network of young changemakers.
We will broadcast this interactive lesson live from COP26, directly into assemblies at schools across the UK and around the world, aiming to reach and inspire millions of learners at once.
“We are thrilled to be part of this collaboration with AimHi Earth, streaming world-class climate education directly into schools so that children, teachers and learners everywhere can contribute to a better future for all,” says World’s Largest Lesson network co-ordinator Millie Edwards.
“We are also aware that nature and nature-based solutions are too often left out of climate conversations. So it’s great that this great big lesson will celebrate nature as an important part of this story.”
Fresh, fun and relatable analogies open even the most complex climate concepts to everyone and – better still – empower all of us to share these concepts with others. Our young, inspiring communicators will make the key climate concepts accessible to everyone, using storytelling and captivating narratives to present knowledge, solutions and ideas in ways that stick.
Because the lesson is interactive and virtual, we can invite diverse groups into the climate summit to learn and reflect together. This will allow us to expose shared misconceptions, build common ground, assuage guilt and introduce an engaged community that is ready and willing to work together to turn the climate and ecological crisis around.
Young people are the custodians of our future planet. We are the generation impacted most and we are the ones who need to turn this around. So we are extremely excited that Melati and Isabel Wijsen’s YOUTHTOPIA Circle of Youth will join us, to bring together perspectives and creative responses from truly diverse backgrounds.
YOUTHTOPIA’s young changemakers will co-host this lesson as an international relay, with inspiring speakers from Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, the US, South Korea, Peru, Kenya, China, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the UK.
“We’re very excited about this project – especially to be collaborating with YOUTHTOPIA’s network of inspiring young changemakers,” says AimHi Earth international-impact lead Abi Thomson.
“Its Circle of Youth is incredible at communicating these issues in a truly authentic and relatable way and it’s amazing to be able to showcase the enthusiasm of young people, united around the globe, in a way that will inspire action all over the world.”
Acting on it
If we are to face this crisis together, we all need to understand it. This lesson at the climate summit is an opportunity to bring everyone onto the same page, taking the first step towards full understanding and real agency.
We want teachers to feel equipped – with the latest science, and with the skills to have conversations in their classrooms and to weave questions about nature and climate change into their lesson plans. And we want students to leave feeling able and ready to cut through the misinformation and focus on solutions, to feel empowered to be environmental changemakers.
We believe understanding leads to hope, hope leads to positive action and positive action to ownership and more hope.
Let’s hack this positive feedback loop and equip young people with the tools they need – knowledge about climate and nature, the communication skills and a sense of hope – to become agents of positive change.
These are the tools we all need to make a difference.
See you at COP26.
Sarah Humphrys, 28, has a background in conservation and anthropology and is one of AimHi Earth’s co-founders. In her spare time you’ll find her exploring the UK in her camper van or surrounded by trees
Find out more about AimHi Earth at: http://AimHi.Earth
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