One of society’s key challenges in 21st century is climate and environmental change. Climate change has become a global problem affecting all aspects of human life. Extreme weather conditions, droughts, rises in the sea level and forced migration will drastically change the life of modern societies.
To mitigate the results of climate change and lessen the negative impact on the environment, the EU has developed a common policy that will guarantee constructive action. This includes the EU’s support to the Eastern partner countries in implementing the Paris Agreement, and raising awareness about how individuals and society as a whole can help protect the environment.
Climate justice = social justice
Raising awareness among young leaders and government officials, and providing them with reliable information was the goal of the seminar ‘Education and awareness raising on climate change’, which I attended in Brussels between 10 and 11 February.
At the event, participants were acquainted with the plan of theDirectorate-General for Climate Action, including a full overview of current environmental problems. We were also shown statistics on climate change trends, and learnt about the recent studies in the field. In addition, the seminar examined the climate and environmental projects supported by the EU in the Eastern partner countries, and included presentations from NGO leaders and civic activists.
I was most impressed by the presentation, titled ‘How to mobilise youth for climate change’, which talked about the powerful effect of civic activism, and the connection between climate justice and social justice. The presentation also made a case for promoting equality in society through green politics.
Participants discussed problems in the areas of awareness, transport, food, waste and energy, and found common gaps and challenges for their countries.This allowed them to understand the situation better, identify new trends and share good practice.
Collaboration is key
On the second day of the event, we visited Ghent to see some successful projects on energy efficiency.
We learnt about an ambitious project that aims to provide solar energy to all families in Ghent – a massive endeavour undertaken by Ghent University and several other organisations. We also visited the Green School, which offers training on environmental responsibility.Besides taking classes, students actively cultivate land at school and produce organic products. They also have lessons in manufacturing furniture and other items from organic materials.
The visit to Ghent showed us that achieving positive results requires a collective effort from both civil society and government structures.
Change is in the hands of young people
I believe that the ‘Young European Ambassadors’ (YEA) initiative is an empowering tool for young people to become responsible active citizens. As a YEA, I have had a chance to organise several activities in Georgia and change the attitudes of my generation towards the issue of climate change.
Young people have a special responsibility to protect our environment and stop climate change, because our actions today will determine the world we live in tomorrow. What we can do now is empower each other with the correct information and make the necessary steps together. The seminar ‘Education and awareness raising on climate change’ helped me understand the problem better, and now I am even more motivated to spread my knowledge to my peers.
It is more important than ever to take action and bear the full responsibility to protect the environment.