photo credit, Avery Holliday from the the David Suzuki Foundation's "Finding Your Climate Community."

The Youth Climate Ambassadors Project

Through programming that centers hope, justice, agency, systems change, and storytelling, the Youth Climate Ambassadors Project helps young leaders realize their collective power.

Project Leads: George Radner, Em Mittertreiner, Grace Nosek

Youth have a powerful role in moving society towards a just and sustainable future, and The Youth Climate Ambassadors Project (YCAP) helps young leaders realize this collective power. Created in response to the demand for climate change narratives that focus on hope and action rather than doom and gloom, YCAP offers free climate action workshops supported by the UBC Climate Hub in partnership with Be The Change Earth Alliance. YCAP connects trained university student facilitators with high school classes and community groups, creating opportunities for peer-to-peer storytelling centred around climate justice, systems change, and community resistance. Accessibility is a key feature of our program: we can accommodate any range of knowledge levels, and workshops can occur in classrooms, before or after school, in community centers, at the UBC Climate Hub, or anywhere else youth might gather.

Communities are most receptive to climate change narratives delivered by people they trust, and the voices of youth community members are especially salient. Young people’s voices are key to communicating the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to approach from a lens of climate justice. However, many efforts to communicate the urgency of the climate crisis focus on insurmountable eco-threats. These narratives of inevitable apocalypse burden students with paralyzing grief and anxiety that prevents them from taking action. YCAP workshops mobilize a systems thinking and global equity lens to empower youth with the hope and agency needed to tell compelling, powerful climate stories that center justice in the climate conversation. Feeling empowered on climate is the best way to overcome eco-anxiety.

photo credit, Avery Holliday from the the David Suzuki Foundation's "Finding Your Climate Community."

Workshop Content

Each workshop lasts roughly one hour and covers the following:

  • Climate Narratives: A discussion of students’ associations, ideas and feelings regarding climate change, with an emphasis on validating student experiences.
  • Climate Justice: An introduction to the concept of climate justice and to the 12 year window to make large-scale changes to our socio-economic systems identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in a special report released last year.
    Peer Storytelling: Personal stories from the facilitators on how they became motivated to take climate action.
  • Community Storytelling: Stories of other local teens and Indigenous youth who are stepping up to act on climate, and what we can learn from them.
  • Personal Storytelling: An activity to guide students in becoming a Climate Ambassador in their community: creating a personal climate story, applying unique interests and skills to a chosen method of delivery, and picking a target audience to deliver a call to action.

Workshop objectives

Facilitators aim to achieve the following goals by the end of the workshop:

  • Mobilization: Invite students to become Climate Ambassadors in their communities through compelling stories that inspire hope and agency.
  • Peer Validation: Affirm student experiences and feelings about climate change.
  • Justice and Systems Thinking Lens: Help students understand climate change as a social justice issue created by systems of oppression, not just an environmental crisis.
  • Capacity-building: Give students tools and frameworks to be more effective climate activists and communicators.

Bringing YCAP Workshops To Your Community

Currently our facilitation team is based out of the Lower Mainland, and we do not offer workshops beyond these regional limits. However, YCAP is committed to providing an open-source curriculum that is accessible to teachers, youth, and grassroots organizations who believe their community could benefit from climate narratives fuelled by hope and agency. To aid community groups around the world who would like to replicate, draw from, or adapt our model, this section details the logistics, workshop materials, and facilitator guides needed to put on your own Climate Ambassadors workshop. If you decide to organize an independent YCAP workshop, we would love to hear from you!

The Process

Steps to putting on your own Youth Climate Ambassadors Workshop:

  • Recruit 2-3 youth facilitators who are charismatic, passionate, and have experience with public speaking or workshops.
  • Use the Facilitation Guide, Workshop Guide, and Storytelling Guide to help the facilitators become comfortable with anti-oppressive facilitation practices, workshop delivery, and telling their personal climate story.
  • Schedule a workshop through connections with a local school, community, or nonprofit.
    Deliver workshop.
  • Collect feedback forms and demographic information to inform changes to future workshops.
  • Contact the UBC Climate Hub to let us know how it goes!

Workshop Logistics

  • Length: 60-90 minutes.
  • Location: Can occur in classrooms (eg: Social Studies class), before/after school extracurricular groups, community centres or anywhere else youth gather.
  • Age range: 14-18, with possible adaptations for younger students and adults.
  • Number of participants: 15-30 is ideal.
  • Multimedia:
    • One podcast clip of Vancouver teens discussing how it felt to take climate action after being inspired by a YCAP workshop
    • One clip from a sit-in attended by Indigenous youth and led by Ta’Kaiya Blaney
  • Print materials
    • Chart paper or whiteboard for group brainstorming.
    • 6 sticky notes per student (optional: different colour stickies).
    • One climate storytelling worksheet per student, on which students will place their stickies at the end.
    • One anonymous feedback survey per student.
    • One pen per student (if needed based on workshop setting).
The work of the Youth Climate Ambassadors Project is generously supported by Vancity.

Download our workshop toolkit

Host a workshop in your community! The Climate Hub is committed to openly sharing its resources. Click below to download the workshop toolkit, drop us a line to let us know how it went!

download toolkit

We would like to acknowledge and thank Vancity Credit Union for their ongoing support and funding for this project.

We would like to acknowledge our partners, including Be The Change Earth Alliance, for helping scale this project.

Last but not least, we would like to acknowledge and thank all the project leads, facilitators, volunteers, and members of the Climate Hub team who have carried forward this vision. This project was developed by Em Mittertreiner, George Radner, and Meghan Little from the ideas and research of Grace Nosek.