“Youth are the future: neglecting them would be akin to neglecting the future” ~ Decarbonize Decolonize Youth
The transformational project that I spearheaded as a Country Representative and Project Facilitator was about “Climate Change”. The objective of this project was to enable the students (Under 18 years) of India to initiate awareness and action by empowering them in conversations on Climate Change Education, Impact and Vulnerabilities. This was made possible by the Centre for Global Education, Edmonton, Canada, in partnership with Ocean Wise and under moral patronage of UNESCO, with input from such branches as the Intergovernmental Hydrology Programme, Ecohydrology, Biosphere Reserves, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet),who initiated this project by involving students (under 18 years) where, Mr.Terry Godwaldt, Executive Director of The Centre for Global Education, was able to bring together Global Lead Schools (many of them being UNESCO schools) from countries spanning every continent of the World like Canada, USA, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, Spain, Denmark, Slovenia, Latvia, Germany, Turkey, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, The students from these countries were able to put forth their perspective to academicians, researchers and policy makers of the world by participating in an event of international importance – COP25 – UN Climate Change Conference at Madrid, Spain in December 2019.
The Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet, Hyderabad was identified as the Global Lead School to represent India in this Global Forum. A team of students – Aditya Sriram Pandrangi, Ankith Rao, Akanksha Parakala, Sairam Patnam, Syed Affan, Ashray Padavala, Hamza Azad, Likhith Aliveli, Kundana Aliveli, Pavan Trishu Vijayakumar, Tanish Manem from classes 8 to 10 under the guidance of their teacher Ms. Usha Sudhir, worked hard for four months, preparing blogs, researching and collecting information about climate change in India. This project was facilitated by me, an ex-parent of the school, presently an Independent Educational Consultant based in Hyderabad.
In this project, students researched, shared information regarding climate change in their country, their opinion on global warming, other changes in the environment by posting blogs under different aspects, such as climate change in their locality, effect of colonisation on indigenous activities, case study on a location within the country where their own country or a foreign power is extracting resources in ways that contribute to climate change. Important questions under this activity were pre-bilateral case study, analysing climate change solutions conducted with the bilateral partner country.
The interaction with students from other countries happened virtually using video conferences across various time zones and information acquired was compared with the case studies for similarities and dissimilarities.
After months of preparation, Mr.Aditya Sriram(student) and Ms.Usha Sudhir (teacher) travelled with me to Madrid, Spain to represent India at the COP25. They shared opinions with students of other countries in various forms like interactive simulations about the role of UN in tackling Climate Change and artwork, presentations.
The students researched about “Climate of India”, “Climate challenges in our area”, “Process of interaction, communication, compiling, sharing”, “Action projects in India against climate change”, “Paris Agreement”, “Colonizing trends of past and present” and finally synthesised the research and compiled it in a “Global Youth White Paper” which focussed on areas like deforestation, industry, representation and education outlining not only the issues faced by the countries and calling for action but also providing solutions in the form of youth commitments, summarizing the results of the survey conducted across the world, which again formed the voice of the students (under 18 years) was presented to the UN Secretary General, Secretary – UNFCCC and other world leaders at the COP25 along with meeting delegates and dignitaries from various countries to discuss their white paper.
As a Project Facilitator, I was also able to bring together students from 12 other schools in India across the country and the informal sector, who used indigenous art forms like Warli Art, to express their concerns,views, opinions, ideas and innovations about climate change in the form of drawing, painting, collage,projects, music etc and participate in the “Youth Art for Climate Change” section of the project. Six of the eight art works selected by the jury at the UN were by Indian students. A student from Maharashtra designed a device to translocate trees which also earned accolades.
Participation in this project through events of international importance by collaborating with their peers across the world, students, in their quest to become global citizens, acquired awareness about SDGs along with many other life skills like presentation skills, fostering logical and analytical reasoning, problem solving abilities which gave them confidence to handle Q&A sessions, discussions with academicians, researchers and policy makers, motivation to take leadership roles and initiate actionable projects, campaigns and activities based on their research and case studies.
Activities involving water calculator and carbon calculator gave students a perspective about impact of environmental degradation that has engulfed earth. Students became critical thinkers when they successfully examined and worked on case studies involving the following at length during and after the events:
- Oil exploration from Bangladesh
- Continuous and incessant rains spreading beyond regular season, causing flooding in several cities in the country – data collected and analyzed with meteorological department
- Pollution of rivers, lakes
- Pollution of cities – notably Delhi
- Interlinking of rivers – Rally for rivers
- Effects of colonization
- To translate their learnings into actions, students in India have now undertaken the following projects to protect the environment on an on-going basis:
- Waste segregation in school – Students of waste to enable composting, reuse, recycle and make this a culture of their home, institution and community also.
- Composting – taken up in school premises to reduce use of vegetable waste and convert into manure for kitchen garden
- Kitchen Garden in school
- E-waste collection drive
Being an Educational Consultant in India and a member of various educational organizations in the country, I have easy access to many schools across the country, which enables me to integrate students of schools from different demographic zones like rural and urban settings, the informal sector etc., in various projects. This helps to get a wider perspective about the concerns, views, opinions, ideas and innovations across a cross-section of the society, which can be generally taken as a majority opinion or belief of the country.
Secondly, it also gives me a chance to provide a platform to voice the thoughts and innovative ideas, that students from underprivileged regions demonstrate, who otherwise do not get such an opportunity. The project submitted by Rituparn Kulkarni of Class 8 from Jaihind Public School, Udgir, Maharashtra [rural setting], where he developeda device to translocate trees rather than cut them in the name of development is a very good example. This project won him accolades. Art as a means of expression to convey their hardships caused by changes in the climate also was highly appreciated at COP.
Projects like “Climate Change” enable the students toconnect with real life situations and experiences very easily and participation helps the students to gain awareness about current events, develop soft skills like logical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, creative and critical thinking, acquire leadership skills and take responsibility for their learning and actions along with other skills and attributes.
Lakshmi Annapurna Chintaluri
Independent Education Consultant