Children’s Voices for Climate Change: A research-practice collaboration between Scotland and Chile
Despite being most affected by the ongoing climate crisis, young people’s perspectives are largely underrepresented in the policymaking space. Recent research has highlighted the need to work with young people in an empowering and participatory way, on issues relating to climate change. This is especially relevant to Scotland, where Glasgow will host the upcoming COP26 summit, and where the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was recently passed into law, requiring new methods through which the voices of young people can be amplified.
In response to these issues, Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland (CNS) has facilitated workshops between schools in Clydebank (St Eunan’s Primary and St Peter the Apostle secondary) and in Luis Cruz Martinez, Chile. These workshops form the central part of an ongoing climate dialogue between the schools, where pupils have been discussing climate action, local issues such as waste and litter, pollution, and extreme weather. Emerging from these workshops, CNS is facilitating an event that will bring together school pupils, teachers, and CNS researchers to showcase the conversations from the workshops.
This event is an exhibition of the ongoing research, between Scotland and Chile, that helps to address the underrepresentation of children’s voices in policy. Alongside the Network for Social and Educational Equity, CNS is utilising the ‘Capabilities approach’ which emphasises young people’s agency in the research process. The primary aim of the climate dialogue workshops has been to empower and connect the voices of young people, as well as teachers, in both Chile and Scotland.
The workshops have connected the schoolchildren and teachers of Luis Cruz Martinez with those in West Dunbartonshire, allowing for shared understandings of climate change issues. For teachers, workshops have facilitated knowledge exchange and pedagogical reflections about how to embed climate-related content into the classroom. For the students, the workshops are providing a forum through which they can explore and voice their own climate concerns, and compare the issues in a global context. Through the interactive and participatory workshops, pupils are increasing their critical thinking and communication skills whilst building their understanding of climate change, locally and globally. With COP25 relocated away from Chile in 2019, and COP26 hosted in Glasgow, this project offers young people in both countries the opportunity to meaningfully participate in international climate discussions.
This event will highlight this research, giving the young people a platform to present their concerns to a live audience whilst enabling teachers and researchers to jointly exhibit their findings and the outcomes of the workshops. The event will therefore be highly relevant and engaging to teachers and practitioners in the fields of climate change, educational policy, and research.
Part of the COP26 activities at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow