Enhancing youth engagement in climate policy by GreenBits Initiative
Enhancing youth engagement in climate policy through production of a fun, simple and easy to understand and use starterkit on climate action
Young people are crucial in unlocking climate action, yet they are inequitably represented in decision-making on climate action. The main reason put forth is that young people do not have sufficient experience and technical knowledge to effectively engage in climate policy, at all levels. But hey, we are in the Information Age, so why not make this excuse moot?
Enter GreenBits Initiative: a platform that enhances youth engagement in climate policy by producing and disseminating simple, fun and easy to read and understand guidebooks on climate policy. By simplifying the usually technical material on climate policy into easily accessible information that is easy to read and understand, young people are able to be better informed, thus making significant contribution towards climate action by engaging in decision-making.
To avoid the trap of keeping this proposal only relevant to the 'utopia', we have been linking online tools, such as social media, with youth grassroots networks working on climate change. By this, we enhance the capacity of these young people to understand the climate challenges, thus being able to link their actions to decision-making.
Thus far, our books have been used by youth in Vietnam to build their capacity on climate action, in DR Congo by a climate activist to train youth on how to influence climate policy in their country, as well as in a massive capacity building exercise by the Arab Youth Climate Movement to build the capacity of Arab youth, from the bottom-up, on linking climate grassroots climate action with decision-making as regards climate action.
So popular are our books that youth volunteers offered to and have already translated our flagship book, My Little COP Pocketbook, into eleven languages, and counting, so as to reach a wide array of youth from all over the world.
Thus, this proposal suggests the development of a guidebook/starterkit to enhance the capacity of young people to influence and shape climate action.
Category of action
Youth Leadership on Climate Change
What actions do you propose?
Strike while the iron is hot
2015 is a big year, a big opportunity for young people to contribute to shaping a new global regime of climate policy, which will subsequently shape climate regimes at lower levels. This will be through the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21), where a new global deal on climate action will be adopted.
Thus, this proposal suggests a way to ramp up youth action to contribute to the accelerating climate action at all levels by building the capacity of youth to take part in and influence climate policy at all levels. More specifically, to produce a youth 'starterkit' on how to spark and shape climate action at all levels. This starterkit will be available in several languages.
The proposed starterkit will be developed by youth who are experienced in sparking climate action, as well as influencing climate policy and governance, with the support of other interested partners, available in several languages, and distributed widely through social media and youth networks working on climate change at all levels. The current readership of the climate education material we develop is global, and spans across youth working on climate action, policy makers, academia, non-governmental entities, more so youth oriented civil society entities.
Further, this toolkit will link climate action and climate policy, since this linkage is key to unlocking the potential of young people to contribute to and shape climate action at all levels.
Contents of the Starterkit
So, what will this starterkit be all about? Well, this starterkit will comprise the following four key sections:
a. Brief introduction to climate change and subsequent pertinent issues: Climate change is a cross-cutting issue, and many people without an academic background in climate change might usually find it difficult to comprehend the issue. Thus, this starterkit will lower this barrier by providing a brief introduction to the climate change phenomenon, as well as the substantive topics of debate surrounding climate action. After reading this section of the starterkit, a person not previously competent in matters of climate change will have a sufficient understanding of the issue. Hot topics such as decarbonizing of economies, climate justice and the intergenerational dimension of climate change (dear to young people) will be presented.
b. How to influence climate action: Having influenced climate action from the grassroots to the international level, we plan to put this experience to good use by incorporating into the starterkit. Climate actions take different forms, hence the need to carefully contextualize the type of action planned. In this regard, this starterkit will focus on actions to influence decision makers at all levels, most particularly local action with a focus on climate policy and associated institutions, and will also leverage the expertise of other people who are proficient in influencing climate action. This content will be presented in the form of tips, and will strive to be more objective rather than subjective.
c. Effectively communicating climate action: Undertaking climate action alone is insufficient; inspiring other people to take climate action is a step further, creating a domino effect. Thus, this starterkit will lay out tips on effective communication of climate action. Two key objectives are envisaged in this section: to influence and shape climate action through communication, and spur climate action by inspiring other people to take climate action. Linking the plethora of powerful communication tools - afforded to us by the Information Age - with the growing youth networks will be one aspect explored in this section, since it has the potential to spur youth climate action.
d. Funding and support: The starterkit will have a detailed list of organizations and institutions that fund and support youth-oriented projects, so as to enable the youth to leverage these resources to actualize their projects.
Innovative aspects of the proposal
Guidebooks are commonplace, no doubt. In the quest for pursuing innovative pathways to unlock and spur youth engagement in climate action, this proposal adopts a multi-pronged approach:
a. Digital and print editions: With many young people spending more of their time online, the digital realm offers an exciting platform for engaging the young people. Thus, the production and dissemination of this proposal will take the form of a limited number of printed copies and e-books available for the web and different mobile platforms. Since charity begins at home, we will limit the printing of the book as much as possible, so as to have a very small ecological footprint - most paper comes from trees! These printed copies will be distributed to key youth stakeholders as a proof of concept in the quest to leverage the expansion of this project. Youth climate networks, and other feasible avenues, will be used to deliver the digital versions of the starterkit. From our own experience of distributing e-books targeted at youth, these youth networks have proven to be a very effective avenue.
b. Supporting website & App: We envisage this proposal as a 'living project', since we will be tweaking and improving it, based on feedback. For this purpose, we will dedicate a specific page on our organization's website to this project, which will serve to augment and enhance the starterkit. This website will also feature updates on the project, and how to join/engage in scaling up the project. The website will also showcasnd support progress of the Mini CoLabs. A mobile app will also be developed, aimed at those users who will be using their mobile devices; this is a feasible bet since the world is increasingly embracing the use of mobile devices.
Assessing the actual impact of the project
Assessing the actual impact of the project will be critical, since we envision a metric-driven approach to implementing this project.
c. Mini CoLabs: Taking cue from the MIT Climate CoLab, we will adopt a devolved approach of the CoLab project. Since climate action is highly contextual, based on geographical and other factors, we will support the devolution of this concept to the continental level. We will support the setting up of five Mini CoLabs, one in each of the five major continents: Africa, Asia, South America, North America and Europe. We will provide seed financing, which the selected youth organizations/proposals will then leverage to raise more funds to support the pilot of the Mini CoLabs in their country. Thus, we will dedicate part of the Grand Prize money - should we win - to support the implementation of this concept. The immense success of the MIT Climate CoLab platform is sufficient justification to pursue this concept.
d. Multiple languages: Leveraging on our experience, we will make the starterkit available in the mutiple major languages; we are targeting ten languages. Having already had a publication in eleven languages, we understand the importance of making the starterkit available to as many young people as possible, and from as many different areas as possible.
e. 'Incentivized' volunteering: Young people make great volunteers, thanks to their inherent passion. But creating an incentive would most definitely improve the quality of work done through volunteering, as this would greatly motivate the volunteers. This model is also effective in light of having a shoe-string budget. Thus, we will leverage this model when undertaking the translation of the starterkit to various languages.Ten volunteers will be engaged to translate the starterkit, and each volunteer will be awarded a token of appreciation of US$100. This money will be from the Grand Prize grant.
Who will take these actions?
In order to realize this project, several actors will be needed:
Young people: Young people will be the main actors, taking the lead in developing the content of the toolkit, as well as sharing it within and without their networks, as well as using it to build the capacity of other young people engaged in climate change and policy matters. These young people will also be instrumental in translating the toolkit to various languages so as to reach more young people.
Experienced experts: This project will enlist the expertise and wisdom of experienced climate policy experts, education and communication experts, as well as other experts, since this is invaluable in making the project successful (think Intergenerational Partnerships).
Governments: Change in laws and policy usually occurs through government-led processes; thus, it is critical to engage governments in expanding the space for young people as regards decision-making. Since this is a highly contextual matter, the toolkit will be designed in such a way as to enable young people in different places to adapt the starterkit to their specific contexts.
Civil society organizations: Since the civil society is a key player in climate matters, it will be crucial to engage them, especially in promoting the distribution of this starterkit, as well as building an audience and awareness about the starterkit's utility in unlocking climate action.
Non-governmental organizations: Non-governmental organizations also offer an important platform to enhance this project. For instance, the UNFCCC, through its CCiNet portal, promotes projects by young people aimed at unlocking climate action.
Grant-making organizations: We will use the Grand Prize money to leverage other funds to support the implementation of this proposal.
What are other key benefits?
This proposed project will have other significant spin-off effects:
Catalyzing climate action: the action of young people in addressing climate change decision making, through a domino effect, by inspiring other young people.
Strengthening intergenerational partnerships: No generation by itself can effectively come up with foolproof solutions to complex changes. Thus, this project will promote the concept of intergenerational partnerships, whereby people across all generations will work together towards common goals, in climate policy, as well as in other domains
Increased generation of knowledge: Since this project aims at enhancing the notion on lowering the barriers to unlocking climate action, and its inherent complexities, it will also inspire such interventions in other domains, thus realizing the potential of the tools present in the Information Age to power all-inclusive governance for the betterment of society.
Sparking innovative youth climate actions
What are the proposal’s costs?
The costs of implementing this proposal are:
- Printing the starterkit: US$ 3,000
- Funding the Mini CoLabs: 5 x US$ 500 = US$ 2,500
- Webpage to augment and support starterkit: US$ 2,000
- Translations of starterkit: 10 x US$ 100 = US$ 1,000
- Mobile App to support starterkit: US$ 1,000
- Contingency funds: US$ 500
Grand total: US$ 10,000
The project timeline for this project is as follows:
1. Have the toolkit ready: By 15th October 2014.
2. Dissemination of the web-version e-book of toolkit (online): Latest end of November 2014
3. First impact of the toolkit anticipated in the UN climate change negotiations in Peru in December, 2014
4. Refine the toolkit, disseminate it further, and coordinate more actions on using the toolkit to continue building the capacity of young people to shape climate policy at all levels: Entire year of 2015
5. Establishment of Mini CoLabs:
First year of project implementation (2015): 2 Mini CoLabs established
Second year of project implementation (2016): 2 Mini CoLabs established
Third year of project: 1 Mini CoLab established
6. Establishment of webpage to support starterkit: March 2015
7. Development and distribution of mobile app: June 2015
8. Tweaking of Mini CoLabs will be undertken throughout, since we will adopt an iterative approach that is metric-driven. Thus, monitoring and evaluation will be at the heart of the project.
9. After the three-year phase is over, this project will be exhaustively reviewed, with a view to undertake a scaled-up, improved
There are quite a number of related proposals in this contest, with whom we will be more than glad to work with:
1. Youth Action for Climate Change Awareness, Education and Research
2. USES - Universal Sustainability Education System
3. Go CO2 Free - App to engage individual action
- GreenBits Initiative: http://greenbitsinit.org
- UNFCCC CCiNET Youth Portal: http://unfccc.int/cc_inet/cc_inet/youth_portal/items/6578.php