Climate Change: Theoretical Concept or Reality?
Youth Climate Dialogues between schools in Lilongwe (Malawi) and St. Gallen (Switzerland) facilitate an intimate exchange of views on what climate change means for young people from different backgrounds.
Thursday morning at Kantonsschule am Burggraben Highschool in a small town in Northern Switzerland, 30 secondary students peer at a big screen. On the other side of the world 20 other students from the Lilongwe Girls Secondary School stare back at them.
The preparations for this dialogue had been intense. In the weeks leading up to the event both schools had discussed climate change in class; they have taken an introductory online course; and they had worked on their own projects to illustrate what climate change meant to them. The Lilongwe Girls School prepared interviews and photo-statements about how climate change is affecting them. The Swiss students also produced pictures and videos, including a weather forecast for 2050 showing what might happen to Switzerland’s snow and glaciers, “if we don’t change our ways”.
Here they are getting ready for the videoconference. The connection is not always stable, but the discussion is authentic, direct and intimate. The students talk about the impacts of climate change on the environment, society and the economy, but also very personal experiences. One girl from Malawi talks about the time her grandmother was swept away by a flood. Another talks about the frequent power cuts that they face in Lilongwe. All want to know how climate change is affecting life in Switzerland. Ms. Linda Gervasi, the St Gallen class teacher observes: “We could have read a text book or watched a documentary, but it would have never had the same effect as this direct exchange.”
A few days later some impressions from the dialogue are shared at a public event. Climate Change Learning Ambassador Ms. Shamiso Najira from the Malawi Ministry of Environment said how proud she was of the students from Lilongwe and highlighted how well girls in a Least Developed Country like Malawi can embrace complex subjects like climate science. “Participating in the Dialogue has helped to build up their confidence and who knows, in 10 years these girls might be the future climate leaders of Malawi”.
What might the students have talked about on their way home, or at the dinner table that evening? This climate dialogue won’t have changed their lifestyles overnight, but perhaps provide a new perspective to reflect upon that just might make a difference in time.
Watch a movie about the Youth Climate Dialogue:
About the UN CC:Learn Youth Climate Dialogues
In the run-up to the Climate Change Conference in Paris, December 2015, the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and UN CC:Learn are providing a forum for youth both in Switzerland and UN CC:Learn’s partner countries to share their views about climate change. Next dialogues:
- La Tour de Peilz, Switzerland – Niamey, Niger, 18 November 2015
- Lugano, Switzerland – Kampala, Uganda, 9 December 2015