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Tomorrow’s solutions

Youth climate summit to offer resources and opportunities for change

Student Life

By Kate Murphy

Climate change is impacting everyone on the planet.

But it is young people who are facing its consequences for the long-term.

Opportunities for youth

That reality is the impetus behind Climate Collective, a project launched this year by Memorial University’s Johnson Geo Centre and Botanical Garden. The project’s goal is to connect youth with opportunities for climate innovation.

The staff has created a network of experts — researchers, educators and entrepreneurs — working in the areas of climate change and environmental challenges and using the network to create opportunities for youth.

One of the opportunities is the “Take Action!” Youth Climate Summit, taking place virtually from July 28-31. It is based on a similar initiative by The Wild Center in New York state. Participants can choose between or all of the 13 talks, discussion sessions and workshops.

Emma Troake, an intern with the Climate Collective, says there is something to suit everyone’s interests.

“We’ve scheduled talks on plastic pollution research, smart buoys that help measure ice thickness, local climate and sustainability projects that involve youth action, changes you can make on an individual level,” she said.

“There will also be great interactive workshops, such as a writing workshop on ‘cli-fi’ or eco-fiction and basket weaving with plastics.”

A white rectangle with a circle with multicolour dots over a blue background with the words "Climate Collective: Youth, innovation, empowerment" in black

Youth focused

Presenters at the summit come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

There are researchers and organizers from Memorial, business owners, leaders of volunteer organizations, artists and students – all of whom have an interest in creating opportunities for youth.

“We are excited to speak to the youth about … how Inuit are adapting to climate change using advanced technologies with their traditional knowledge.” — Emily Best

Emily Best, the Northern communications lead for SmartICE Sea Ice Monitoring and Information Inc., will be talking about SmartICE technology and how it is helping enable climate change resilience throughout Canada’s North.

“Climate change is happening at an exponential rate and impacting so many people across the world, especially those in the North,” said Ms. Best.

“We are excited to speak to the youth about our work across Inuit Nunangat and show to them how Inuit are adapting to climate change using advanced technologies with their traditional knowledge to make more informed decisions about ice travel.”

Tomorrow’s leaders

Ms. Troake and other summit organizers hope the four-day virtual event will inform, engage and provide a space for thoughtful discussion.

Another aim is to encourage even more young people to become involved with climate-focused initiatives in the province, including considering forming youth climate action chapters with Climate Collective in the fall.

“We want to show young people at the summit that … there’s always a way to become part of the solution.” — Emma Troake

For the upcoming school year, Climate Collective will provide the individual chapters with hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activity kits.

By next summer, the youth involved in the chapters will take a leadership role in next year’s summit, providing valuable leadership experience.

Ultimately, Ms. Troake says the Climate Collective knows that youth care about the planet and are motivated to create change.

“We want to show young people at the summit that no matter where your interests lie, there’s always a way to become part of the solution.”

You can read about the Youth Climate Summit and see the schedule at the Climate Collective website. Register for the summit here.

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