Teaching the Next Generation of Climate Leaders

Young people are grabbing the mic from adults on climate change, evidenced by the numerous young people around the globe mobilizing for swift climate action. The Global Youth Climate Strike on September 20th, 2019 and the weekly Fridays for the Future protests (from noon-4pm at the City-County Building on Grant St.) are just a couple ways that youth are using their voices for action.

As youth continue to lead to fight for climate action, developing their leadership skills becomes just as important as fostering the passion that makes them so effective.

Green Building Alliance has been a dedicated supporter of holistic change in K-12 schools since 2011 with the start of the Green and Healthy Schools Academy (GHSA). By going beyond “just recycling,” GHSA encourages collaboration throughout school buildings to achieve sustainability goals and gives teachers resources to integrate into their classroom curriculum.

Green Building Alliance’s Emerging Youth Program (EYP) – a series of free monthly, after-school workshops for high school students – creates opportunities to experience sustainability and climate action already happening in the city of Pittsburgh. The seventeen high school youth come from schools across the city including City Charter, Woodland Hills, Oakland Catholic, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Norwin, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, and Wheeling Park High School.

The EYP is based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) framework, a set of 17 goals determined by world leaders to address social, economic, and environmental challenges. Globally focused and locally relevant, Pittsburgh is becoming a hub for the UN SDG framework. On the heels of the City of Pittsburgh officially adopting the UN SDGs, Pittsburgh has just become the second UN Center of Excellence to “create tangible solutions” in the region using the UN SDGs.

Focusing the program on the UN SDGs give youth an opportunity to see a holistic and appropriately complex view of the city and its challenges. The causes and solutions to reach ambitious UN SDGs targets are deeply and inseparably linked and require complex thinking.

In September, EYP participants learned that addressing UN SDG 14: ‘Life Below Water’ and concerns about underwater conditions is incomplete without attention on Goal 12: ‘Responsible Production and Consumption’ and reducing waste in our waterways.

Similarly, it’s impossible to truly act on Goal 1: ‘No Poverty’ without also working towards Goal 10: ‘Reduced Inequalities,’ the specific focus of the January 2020 workshop.

Next week, the seventeen EYP participants are heading to Phipps Conservatory to learn more about health in the built environment by touring the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, experiencing rooftop Edible Gardens, and playing rec games on the lawn.

The November 2019 workshop focuses on food waste and hunger in Pittsburgh, featuring East End Cooperative Ministry and 412 Food Rescue. The Emerging Youth Program application is still open for interested high school students and applications for next year’s program will open April 2020.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply