By Funmi Falobi
As Nations of the world grapple with climate change issues, it can no longer be denied that climate change affects everyone – from lifestyle to food security and standard of living. In some climes, there is connection between climate change and poverty, while it could be climate change and insecurity as could be seen in Nigeria, the acclaimed giant of Africa.
Ahead of the COP26, the United Nations Climate Change conference, the British Council is taking measures to bring to fore the issues of climate change around the world, its effects as well as proffering solutions to mitigate the effects through education, arts and culture and English language.
Thus at a webinar held on Thurday, June 3, 2021, tagged: “Climate Connection: Conversation for Change”, the British Council brought together participants across the world, to draw attention on climate change and its impact on the ecosystem, humanity and the world at large.
Panelists at the online summit include: Stevie Spring, Chairman of the British Council; Ahmed Yassin, the co-founder of Banlastics Youth Initiative in Egypt, advocating environmental values and awareness around the use of plastic in Alexandria; Alison Tickell, Founder, Julie’s Bicycle, a leading organisation bridging sustainability with arts and culture; Rishika Das Roy, a British Council Future Leaders Connect alumna and current Technical Policy Consultant at Oxford Policy Management, based in India; Christopher Graham, teacher, educator and writer, founder of ELT Footprint, a 2020 ELTon winner.
In her opening remarks, Alok Sharma MP, COP26 President-Designate, said the aim of the climate connection is to use education and technology in creating awareness about climate change issues. “There’s need to give learner language skills to help youths on climate change, to tackle specific issues caused by climate change hence the conversation that will lead to COP26,” she said.
The summit submitted that young people are leading the initiative on climate change to build a better planet. Young people are therefore called upon to work together across the world in order to protect the planet for future generation.
The panellists opined that the issues of climate change affect every nation and every hand must be on deck to tackle the challenges and that now is the time to act.
“West Africa has a big problem with plastic bag. There are issues on how to dispose plastic bags. There is need to train teachers on how to dispose plastic in schools,” said Christopher Graham.
“Climate change issues in Egypt include pollution and sea level challenge. There is need for Africa to join the treaty, connect the government not to wait for conferences every year. There’s need to trade climate change like a very important thing. We need to act,” Ahmed Yassin said.
While emphasising the need to start the climate change awareness with the young generation, Graham declared: “There must be agenda in every classroom in the world. The local culture must have local content to engage schools, school boards and community around schools.”
On her part, Alison Tickell stressed the need for people to engage policymakers in order to implement policies toward sustainability of the environment.
“People must use social media, write to their politicians and make some noise. Culture is diverse. Culture policy needs to catch up with specific local content. The culture can speak to the people. We need to lobby for everyone to have access to mother earth,” she said.
Rishika Das Roy also advocated for behaviour change in order to mitigate the impact of climate change in the world.
According to her, “We need to develop, grow but we can do that through different technologies. There must be behaviour change from civil society trickling down to the people. We must engage, educate and communicate.”
In general, the experts were optimistic of a better future of climate change.
The summit also had a guest appearance from Neil Gaiman, award-winning author who also encouraged participants to join hand in championing the cause of climate change in the society.