More than 200 high school students from València make proposals to fight climate change

  • Botanical Garden
  • December 3rd, 2019
Young innovators València
Photo by Abel Cerdà

The Botanical Garden of the Universitat de València hosted the Young Climathon, as part of the “Young Innovators” project of the EIT Climate-KIC. This initiative, in which 220 students of 4th year of Secondary Education and 1st year of Baccalaureate from five Valencian public institutes took part, has allowed the youth to share ideas and proposals in order to fight against climate change and which they have been working on previously over the last few months.

The day, organised by Climate-KIC Spain, along with the Department of Methodology of experimental and social sciences of the Universitat de València and the Botanical Garden of the same university, brought together students from different centres through collaborative techniques with the purpose of introducing climate innovation into the classroom.

Representatives of the different entities participated in the presentation of the conference. The Vice-Principal for Research of the Universitat de València, Carlos Hermenegildo, was in charge of welcoming the students and encouraging them to present their ideas while highlighting the Universitat’s commitment to research to fight against climate change.   José Luis Muñoz, director of Climate-KIC Spain, also emphasised the need to participate in such an outstanding project, with the involvement of young people from different countries. For her part, the Assistant Director of the UV’s Botanical Garden, Olga Mayoral, as well as Raquel Rivas, technician of the Young Innovators project, explained the context of this same project, which has also involved students of the Degree in Education and of the Master’s Degree in Secondary Education Teaching of the Universitat de València.  All the interventions agreed on the relevance of education as a life-changing instrument to enable younger generations to make better decisions about sustainability.

Afterwards, Andreu Escrivà, from the València Clima i Energia Municipal Foundation, remarked on the need to work from the present and from a concept of innovation not only technological, but also social, promoting collective action. Alejandro Gómez, a specialist in environmental innovation, introduced the young people to the Oficina d’Energia (Energy Office), recently opened in València, and stressed the need to move towards a fairer energy model, in line with sustainable development objective number 7, which focuses on guaranteeing access to affordable and non-polluting energy.  

More information, more awareness

After the presentations, the students organised themselves into six working groups, each one identified with the name and image of a Valencian endemism. After the working sessions, they were able to present their ideas and proposals to combat climate change, both from an individual and collective perspective, both in the short and long term.

Among the proposals put forward by the participants were those aimed at working at a local level, from their educational centres, making demands and promoting knowledge of the immediate environment, reforesting spaces and, in conclusion, increasing the total green mass. It was also proposed that a subject on climate change should be introduced in secondary and baccalaureate schools. In a more urban environment, the need to promote public transport, the cultivation of vertical crops, the use of sustainable materials in construction and the restructuring of abandoned spaces - such as empty lots and wastelands - into gardens with local species fully adapted to our climate was also emphasised.

Among all the ideas, the students concluded the importance of working together but also of individual awareness as a first step and as a way of spreading awareness to others. It was also agreed that the more information there is, the more commitment there will be.  

The event ended with the intervention of the director of the UV’s Botanical Garden, Jaime Güemes, and with the direct broadcast with the city Linares, in Chile, where a day of the Young Innovators project was also taking place. Given the success, the initiative is expected to be continued in 2020.

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