60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference - United Nations, New York, 5-7 September 2007


Youth Education Outreach Initiative

Youth remain at the forefront of the complex scientific problems and social quandaries presented by climate change since they are the next generation who will both inhabit the earth and inherit the responsibility to protect the planet. It is imperative that world leaders consider the consequences of their decisions and their subsequent impact on youth from the present time and those seven generations ahead, as dictated by the concept of seven generations sustainability inspired by the Great Law of the Iroquois which states,

"In every deliberation we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine."

It is therefore incumbent upon educators throughout the world to raise awareness among youth about climate change issues, while young students have the responsibility to educate their peers who remain unaware of the issues and engage them in an ongoing dialogue with the goal of arriving at innovative solutions.

Youth education represents one of the most effective tools to combat the destructive potential of climate change and cultivate an international understanding among members of the next generation since it is a long-term process that will impact an infinite number of future generations. The youth wing of the Multigenerational Sub-Committee has thus elected to use education as a vehicle to transmit the messages of the 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference globally.

The Multigenerational Sub-Committee of the 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference organises a variety of individuals of all ages to examine and work on solutions for the urgent situation of climate change that our world is currently facing. In accordance with the mission of the Multigenerational Sub-Committee, the youth wing of the Sub-Committee urges youth throughout the world and their educators to become aware of the issues involved in climate change and proliferate best practices of green living in the hopes of inculcating an environmental consciousness into the next generation. In consultation with educators Samantha Lu of Columbia University and Kelly Roberts of Fordham University, the Sub-Committee presents and recommends the following education strategies devised by a group of its youth members, including Benelita Tina Elie, Honors Academy researcher in the chemistry laboratory at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Mary Pennisi, youth Co-Chair of the Multigenerational Sub-committee, and Christina Verdirame, intern of the Temple of Understanding.

The Multigenerational Subcommittee encourages all NGOs, UN offices, and other educational forums to incorporate all or part of this Initiative into their programs. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail Mary Pennisi at mary.pennisi@gmail.com.

Mission of the Multigenerational Sub-Committee Youth Education Outreach Initiative:

The Youth Education Outreach Initiative aims to foster interactive and informative discussions in educational settings that engage students of multiple ages around the world to increase awareness and understanding about climate change issues addressed in the 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference. It further seeks to encourage advocacy among youth, and proliferate the belief that individual daily actions can make a meaningful difference and effectuate change.

The following activities may be reproduced around the world to bring the problems posed by climate change to the foreground in educational and social forums, and introduce the issues to children at an early age. They may serve as a resource to teachers and students who wish to illustrate some of the problems of climate change and may be easily integrated into lesson plans or interactive workshops:

Recommended Practices for Youth

The following is a list of recommended practices for high school students to promote green living and raise awareness among their peers. Educators are also encouraged to disseminate this list.

What High School Students Can Do? Practices to Promote Green Living and Raise Awareness

Get involved! Make a difference by:

  1. Parks: Volunteer for your local parks departments;
  2. Green Clubs: Form “green clubs” in which climate change issues may be discussed, a list of best practices for living green and being environmental conscious in your local area may be formulated and disseminated, social and philosophical issues surrounding climate change may be presented, videos relating to the issue may be screened, books and articles relating to the issue may be distributed and discussed, and engage students in volunteer activities such as tree counting (see below). Partnering with a teacher to help oversee the club is highly recommended;
  3. Think global, buy local: Purchase goods produced locally. Even organic goods are not worth it if they require extensive travel and energy use. Avoid buying imported goods that require massive amounts of fuel for shipment. Focus on the local.
  4. Tree Count: Travel around your neighborhood and document all the areas in which trees are missing, particularly empty tree planters. Submit tabulated statistics to local parks departments.
  5. Read product labels: purchase products that contain less harmful substances.
  6. Talk to your friends, family, neighbors, and other social groups about climate change issues. Discussion will lead to understanding, which will prompt changes in lifestyles and the development of an environmental conscience.

Suggested topics for discussion within a club or classroom:

  • Global warming and activities that accelerate it;
  • Scientific clarification between the ozone layer and greenhouse gases;
  • The Kyoto protocol and its effectiveness;
  • Efforts of the international community to mitigate the problems of climate change;
  • The economics of climate change and the cost effectiveness of green living;
  • Preserving park and open spaces;
  • Volunteering and becoming involved;
  • The role of local business and organisations in climate change;
  • How our everyday actions impact the process of climate change and the environment;
  • The nature of your local environment and how you can protect it;
  • What changes in the environment have occurred in the last century versus the past decade;
  • Chain effects of actions accelerating climate change and those mitigating its effects;
  • Statistics of temperature rising, sea level rising, etc…,
  • The efforts of various faith and cultural groups along with their respective philosophies in combating climate change, and how culture may play a role in the issue;
  • Geo-engineering and the impact of military activities with their weapons on the environment;
  • The effect of climate change on the lifestyles and welfare of indigenous peoples;
  • The future of small island nations such as Tuvalu that are currently sinking;
  • Environmental ethics and the development of an environmental consciousness integral for a greener lifestyle.