In September 2018, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the UN Youth Strategy which seeks to engage 1.8 billion young people in driving global efforts to promote a peaceful, just and sustainable world.
The youth of today are the opinion leaders and decision makers of the future. The future health of the planet rests with them. That’s why it’s so important to get them interested and engaged in environmental issues early on in their lives.
Education innovator Natalie Kyriacou from Australia is doing just that. She has developed Kids’ Corner, a digital classroom inspiring children and educators to participate in wildlife and environmental conservation and sciences through a range of curriculum-approved learning technologies, games and programmes.
Kids’ Corner offers workshop-based environmental programmes, animation videos, fact sheets, infographics, reading materials, teachers’ notes, games and home activities.
It provides children with an enjoyable and creative way of learning about wildlife and the environment, and breaks down complex issues into easy, fun, positive and actionable concepts that can be used in any setting. Kids’ Corner is dedicated to inclusive learning and is currently available online with further resources rolling out across libraries, schools and hospitals over the next 12 months.
“Our programmes have reached more than 50,000 young people across Australia, the US, UK and China,” says Kyriacou. “We aim to impact one million young people worldwide by 2021 through Kids’ Corner, which we believe will lead to positive and measurable behavioural change towards the environment.”
Kyriacou has also developed a mobile game app called World of the Wild which encourages young people to build their own world and participate in virtual conservation scenarios.
“It is critical that we begin to build upon wildlife and environmental education resources to prepare today’s youth with the knowledge to meet the challenges that will define their generation,” she says.
“I launched my organization, My Green World, and embarked on this journey because I felt that, as a global citizen, it was my responsibility (and my privilege) to play an active role in positively shaping the future of the planet. To me, education is the most empowering and effective tool in addressing the world’s greatest challenges,” she says.
UK-based Wastebuster is another, much bigger, environmental education innovator. Since early 2018 it has been partnering with UN Environment to promote environmental messages. Wastebuster is promoting UN Environment’s Clean Seas Campaign.
“At Wastebuster, we aim to capture children’s imaginations and bring waste education to life by using the power of entertainment for social change, with compelling characters, the power of story and video-rich teaching resources,” says Wastebuster Director Katy Newnham.
“We want young people to take their learning out of the classroom and into their home, community and the wider world.
“Some 12 years from when we first started, our vision is to activate a global Education for Sustainable Development Partnership to bring cross-sector stakeholders together to share knowledge, technology and resources to improve coordination of sustainable development education, globally. The partnership will roll out the campaign in 76 countries, representing a combined network of over 250,000 schools and 56 million young people worldwide.
“Our goals are in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and we are working with young people to get their voices heard. Never has it been more important to provide young people with the tools and mindset to work together towards a more sustainable future. Together we can do this, and we continue to call on our existing and new partners across the globe to help us to make sure that it happens,” says Newnham.
“Right now, we are living beyond the waste line of the planet,” says Sam Barratt, an environmental education expert at UN Environment.
“We need to re-wire the way we live and work with young people across the world. Work by groups such as Wastebuster and My Green World are great examples of what is possible. We need to rapidly scale this up and work with young people at all levels of the education system if we are to reshape the world we have, to the one we want.”
For further information please contact Sam Barratt
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