There is a saying that goes “Ignorance is Bliss”. But when it comes to climate change, ignorance is destruction.
I am a 16-year-old advocate for improved education systems; aiming to reduce educational inequalities and promote both Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education. I believe that modern education systems need to be reformed to address these issues in order to progress on the SDGs. My work ranges from community work to public speaking but centers around my organization WeAreChange. WAC is a youth-led and youth-focused initiative to spread education on global issues and Sustainable development around the world, through accessible translated online resources as well as a toolkit for youth to conduct in-person education sessions in their communities.
Awareness session in Tanzania (Picture Courtesy: Grace Kejo)
When teaching WeAreChange’s first community session in my home, Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania, The class of 30 students was surveyed, and only 2 knew what the SDGs were, rating their knowledge of them as one out of 5. This put into perspective for me the importance of education in solving global and urgent issues like Climate Change, and the lack of progress on this, especially in the global south. Without knowledge, people are left powerless against the forces ravaging their planet. There is a saying that goes “Ignorance is Bliss”. But when it comes to climate change, Ignorance is destruction.
Climate education is a key factor in Education for Sustainable Development. Many of the SDGs are connected to climate change, and educating people on these issues is the first step towards creating innovators, advocates, and policy-makers for sustainable development and climate action. This is why I jumped on the opportunity to be a Mock EMS delegate. As a national delegate, I will be able to make a direct impact on improving climate education in my country. By evaluating and creating a statement on climate education in Tanzania, I not only help in clarifying the issue as it exists but also work with national delegates from around the world to create a unified plan of action.
At the summit, I hope to connect with like-minded youth both regionally and internationally: to not only see what’s going wrong, but also what nations are doing right, to learn from the work of others, and propose solutions that are evidence-based and realistic. I believe that we as delegates will be able to create a comprehensive plan of action, that policymakers and politicians at COP 28 will be able to reference in decision-making. Our work in the summit will bring the youth perspective into COP 28, supporting youth solutions for global problems.
I believe not only in the power of education but also in the power of youth. As a collective, we hold an incalculable amount of power and have already been using it to make positive changes. By having youth at the heart of Mock EMS, the priority is given to the voices that are most often ignored in decision-making spaces, to the voices that speak with the greatest urgency. Youth are in a unique position with regard to climate change: as the generation who will be most affected by its impacts, and the generation who has grown up seeing the early impacts of global warming. We have a deeper understanding of these issues, as well as a novel mindset and approach, that when combined and harnessed in the right way, create a powerful weapon for positive change.
Written by: Grace Kejo
Grace is a 16-year-old advocate. With her organization “WeAreChange” she spreads education on global issues and Sustainable development around the world.