Funding secured to help understand how young people experience the climate crisis

Media Relations Team, 02 March 2021

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Person holding a 'Planet over profit' placard

The Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience at UWE Bristol has been awarded funding for a project to learn how young people across Europe experience the climate crisis and develop agency to promote change.

Research teams from four countries will work with young people, teachers, educational institutions and youth groups, on a new project aiming to generate new knowledge of how young people experience and make sense of climate complexity.

The £511k funding from JPI SOLSTICE and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will fund research with partners in Ireland, Italy and Finland to address eco-anxiety among young people and empower them to address the value-action gap in response to climate change.

Project lead, Professor Lindsey McEwen, Director of the Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience at UWE Bristol, said: “The voices of young people are critical in finding meaningful and effective ways to address the climate crisis.

“Increasing awareness of the impacts and effects of climate change, as well as the measures that can be taken to mitigate against it, is crucial in building an empowered and resilient climate-literate youth that can develop and support solutions now and in the future.”

The consortium draws together intercultural experience and asks young people to take part in research that will directly contribute to their personal development, confidence and resilience.

It is hoped the project will generate new impactful research evidence across cultures on the agency of young people as active citizens who can develop solutions and bridge intergenerational learning gaps.

Policy recommendations will be put forward and disseminated widely among policy-makers and other stakeholders, and best practice guidelines will enable knowledge exchange between participating countries and across Europe.

The recommendations and guidelines generated through the project, titled ‘Challenging the Climate Crisis: Children's Agency to Tackle Policy Underpinned by Learning for Transformation’ (CCC-CATAPULT), will assist with furthering climate education and action, and realising commitments toward international agreements such as the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor McEwen added: “Climate change is an existential threat that must be addressed through concerted action involving all of society. Recently, young people have put themselves at the forefront of these efforts through coordinated activities, such as school strikes. These call for greater attention and decisive action from governments and other parties to mitigate climate change and protect people from its harmful effects.”

Professor Frances Fahey, who leads the research team at the National University of Ireland Galway, said: “It is vital that we listen to young people and include their voices in our ongoing efforts to tackle climate change. Young people are the future, but they are also important in the present. Understanding how young people experience this rapidly changing world, and their place in it, is central to developing effective solutions to the common challenges we face.”

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