COP24 - No climate for young people
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A few days ago during the global climate change conference, COP24, I gathered with a group of 20 young climate activists for a panel titled “No climate for young people” to discuss possible solutions for the most pressing threats associated with climate change. The meeting focused on 5 main areas – water, cities, biodiversity, circular economy and education. In contrast to the high-level discussions at COP, which are usually devoted merely to new technologies and innovative techniques, the course of our debate shifted mostly to the topic of climate education.
Is climate education an unnecessary deviation from the traditional approach to climate solutions? Definitely not. Education about climate change and possible actions that can be taken to prevent it are fundamental to actualising a sustainable future. It ensures that any effort to combat climate change will last. Why is recycling still not existing in many schools in Poland? Why is greywater not recycled in many of the Polish public institutions? Lack of climate education. Without knowledge and awareness, even the most advanced infrastructure will not succeed.
However, the real question is why we, young people, should have a role in decisions to address climate change and why we should act now? The answers will probably vary depending on the region. For some, it might be the fear of natural disasters or about the access to fresh water. Others may be concerned about being forced to look for other employability opportunities. Regardless of the motivation, the voices of young people need to be taken into account because climate change affects our generation. At the moment, we are the ones who do not make the decision, but the most affected. Action against climate change is required now – every day that we postpone it gets us closer to hunger, wars and poverty. Why you ask? All Sustainable Development Goals are interconnected, and if we fail to act on one of them, all of them will fail.
Our panel started by a famous quote of Lao Tzu “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” and finished by words of another great individual, Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Those wise words conclude the message that young people at COP want to share with the world. People need the education to act against climate change, and the young generation might be the last one to make it possible – will YOU take action?