The world is facing an environmental crisis threefold as climate change, loss of nature and biodiversity, pollution and waste. To redress the situation of the planet, youth participation is essential, says Sam Barratt , head of the Youth Unit, education and advocacy of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP ).
Our approach is to see how universities can be Petri dishes (1) to change student habits.
Sam Barratt, UNEP
Many differents actors Involved in youth education. What is UNEP's mandate?
Sam Barratt (SB): The Organization United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the leader in education within the United Nations system. But here at UNEP, we work closely with them, focusing on non-formal education and higher education. This mandate allows us to work with important global partners and networks that can reach millions of people to integrate environmental issues into school curricula, on college campuses, into massive games, such as Subway Surfers, or even into scout and guide badge study programs. This is a huge opportunity to change norms and reach billions of young people, both inside and outside the classroom.
Collaboration with universities to promote e d d evelopment sustainable seems to be a key aspect UNEP education work. It's true?
SB: Yes, it's huge because universities produce the leaders of tomorrow. Our approach is to see how universities can be Petri dishes to change student habits. In September 2020, UNEP launched The Little Green Book of nudges on 136 campuses worldwide. This is a quick guide with 40 nudges to inspire sustainable behavior in students and staff.
In 2021, we launched Sustainable academic framework of UNEP , which aims to define what it means to be a sustainable university and sets a path for the future and the World Guide to education on green jobs. These initiatives aim to give the community of higher education, employers and youth organizations the tools to prepare students to participate in a green transition.
And in October 2021, UNEP worked with Times Higher Education for organizing the first Forum for Climate Impact in which Times Higher Education launched its new report focused on data, The Race to Zero Net. he presented the performance of higher education institutions worldwide in reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions and transition to carbon neutrality. So far, 1,086 universities from 68 countries, representing more than 10 million students have pledged to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.
What do you do to support countries in development?
SB: There are already many networks in Europe and North America, but we want to focus on emerging economies. In this context, we launched the Africa Green University and Youth Education Network hosted by the Hassan II International Center for Environmental Training in Morocco. The network is growing and now includes 22 universities from eight African countries. With the support of the TERI School of Advanced Studies , we talked to stakeholders who agreed that it was necessary to establish a network of green universities in India. This network is expected to be built and officially launched in 2022.
Initiatives sp e cific climate front?
SB: Yes. We provided early support to initiatives such as Count Us In , a campaign that aims to inspire 1 billion people to take simple and impactful actions that directly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide will accelerate the adoption climate solutions and will challenge leaders to act boldly to bring about change in global systems.
Hundreds of millions of young people play video games. How does UNEP work with the video game industry to promote environmental awareness?
SB: UNEP facilitates the Alliance Playing for the Planet, which is an initiative to help the video game industry to use its influence, scope and creativity to address some of the biggest challenges environment of the world. Game companies in the alliance have made commitments ranging from integrating green activations into games to reducing their emissions. Since the launch of the Alliance Playing for the Planet in 2019, 60% of its members are committed to become net zero or negative carbon by 2030. In addition to this, the second Green Game Jam year has hosted 30 (gaming) studios with a combined reach of 1 billion gamers.
The report GEO-6 Youth UNEP shows how young people have the power of transformative change for the environment. How he encourages UNEP youth to fight against in fl ed plastic disposable?
SB: The badge Tide Turners Plastic Challenge aims to help the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the World Association of Guides and Scouts, Junior Achievement and university students to take steps to reduce plastic single use in their lifetime. Since February 2019, more than 470,000 young people have started the badge in more than 32 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. With financial support from the UK government, this work will continue into 2022.
UNEP and its partners have launched e ' Earth School ' in April 2020 in response to school closures as a result of the pandemic. In just three weeks, it reached almost 1 million students. How did you come up with such an idea?
SB: We saw that many students, parents and teachers were struggling with Covid-19, so we wanted to try something different. Earth School was built with educators and over 40 partners and shows what can happen when a big idea is owned by many. This is the largest online learning initiative in the history of UNEP and is available free on the TED-Ed website.
The Assembl e e g e n e ral United Nations has proclaimed January 24th as International day of Education, in celebration of the role for peace and development. UNEP is working with key partners and academic r e buckets such as the Scout Movement and the gaming industry to help their community ed of millions of young people to learn and act in favor of the environment.
1 - A Petri dish is a shallow transparent cylindrical box, made of glass or plastic, with a lid. Easily handled, stackable and inexpensive, it is used in microbiology for culturing microorganisms, bacteria or cells of higher organisms - Wikipedia