The Youth Climate Ambassadors Project is a new program supported by the UBC Climate Hub, responding to demand for action- and hope-oriented climate change conversations within young communities. Conventional climate communications efforts have often focused on apocalyptic, hopeless stories of crisis which can be paralyzing, demoralizing, and ineffective for inviting youth to act. Acknowledging the window presented by the IPCC’s 2018 report, the Youth Climate Ambassadors Project offers an alternative perspective that highlights how leaning into the climate movement can inspire hope, community, and agency, while inviting participants to consider climate change as an issue of social justice through a lens of systems thinking.
Through this program, UBC student facilitators offer one to two hour workshops delivered within academic, athletic, creative, social, and cultural communities. The goal: to empower youth with the knowledge, resources, and confidence to become “Climate Ambassadors” in their own communities. Along the way, youth will learn about climate justice and how to understand the complexity of the climate crisis, and its solutions, through systems thinking. The workshops focus on storytelling as a way to help climate narratives resonate with students. Facilitators tell their own climate story, highlighting how and why they became involved in the climate movement, and what it’s meant to them. We believe this peer-to-peer connection is crucial for inviting more youth into the climate movement.
A pilot phase of the Youth Climate Ambassadors Project has been running from January 2019 to June 2019. So far, the program has reached over 600 youth in middle schools and high schools. Following initial workshops, the TREK and Mini School programs at Prince of Wales Secondary have been heavily involved, with students providing feedback on program design, and dedicating both class and volunteer time to participate in Climate Hub activities. Having seen the overwhelming expressions of interest after each workshop, a robust collection of post-workshop resources are now being created in order to connect youth with a diversity of ongoing avenues to engagement in climate-related work.
Beyond supporting youth leadership off-campus, the Youth Climate Ambassadors Project supports UBC student leadership on climate, and facilitates the sharing of climate knowledge on- and off-campus.