As well as taking part in key policy discussions, visitors to this year’s COP26 in Glasgow also got the chance to discover a variety of grassroots climate action happening around the world. A great example of this were the ten winning entries of the Climate Connection’s school video competition, showcased in the conference’s Blue Zone – the area where key negotiations between world leaders took place.
Running during September 2021, in the lead-up to COP26, more than 200 schools around the world took part in the competition, by submitting a three to five minute video showcasing the innovative and impactful climate action they are delivering in their school and communities. The ten winning entries demonstrate the diverse climate challenges facing communities worldwide, and the grassroots solutions students and teachers can take to tackle these.
We take a closer look at some of these entries below. You can view the below four videos by scrolling down, or discover all ten winning entries on the Climate Connection website.
Protecting mangroves in Indonesia
Watch the winning video: The Adventure in Mangrove Forest - Indonesia
Indonesia is home to some 3.2 million hectares of mangrove forests – accounting for a quarter of the world’s total mangrove coverage. Protecting and preserving this precious resource is the focus of an English language project at Unggulan Sindang Junior High School, situated in the Jawa Barat province.
Through the project, students are learning about the importance of mangrove forests, such as how they support biodiversity, prevent soil erosion and can provide vital resources thanks to their antibacterial qualities. Learners have also had the chance to plant their own mangrove trees, as a way of contributing to the future sustainability of the local area.
Learners are strengthening their knowledge and awareness of environmental issues by discussing their findings and ideas together through the medium of English.
As a project participant says: ‘language education has a vital role to play in tackling climate change, as it gives people the tools to understand environmental issues, to discuss ideas, and to work together on solutions.’
Inspiring grassroots climate action in India
Watch the winning video: One planet, One chance, One story
If the climate can change, why can’t we? This question was the starting point for students at Shree Niketan Patasala School, in the city of Tambaram, in India’s Tamil Nadu district, when they embarked on their Design for Change environmental campaign.
Through the project, students have conducted a range of activities to take direct action on climate change and environmental protection, including tree planting, installing bird feeders, creating manure from organic waste, and collecting more than 24,000 kilograms of newspaper for recycling.
But their work doesn’t just stop at the school grounds; they are also inspiring the wider community to combat climate change through a range of initiatives, including lake restoration and marine protection. They have also gathered pledges from community members on their commitment to the environment.
As a project participant says: ‘we believed that it was important to bring to light the positive impacts of actions, so that one could understand that even small steps taken towards the achievement by each and every one of us could lead to big changes.’
Tackling waste in Nigeria
Watch the winning video: Waste To Waste Bin
What does sustainable living mean to you? Students at Start-Rite Schools, in the city of Abuja, Nigeria, have been grappling with this question through their Waste to Waste Bin project.
As well as exploring ways of using less water and energy, and how to live in harmony with the environment, students identified a real issue to tackle within the school itself – waste disposal.
Working in partnership with a local recycling company, students have now implemented an entire recycling programme within the school. This has included creating new bins from plastic bottles collected from around the school grounds to help sort and categorise waste, and encouraging their peers to be more responsible with how they dispose of rubbish. The project has had a big impact on how students view sustainable living.
Pledging to protect the environment in the UK
Watch the winning video: How Our School is Tackling Climate Change
Learning that just 45 per cent of plastic bottles in the UK are recycled, students at St Dominic’s Grammar School, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, installed new recycling bins around the school to encourage pupils and staff to improve their recycling habits.
This is just one of many activities being organised by the school’s thriving Eco Club, which has seen students across the school taking action both inside and outside the school grounds to protect the environment and encourage climate action in others.
In partnership with arts organisation Féile an Phobail and Belfast City Council, 19 of the school’s students planted 400 trees in Belfast’s Falls Park, helping to increase biodiversity in the area, while offsetting the equivalent of 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Meanwhile, a local beach clean-up saw students working with community members to clear beach debris and reduce the impact of plastic pollution on native marine life.
The whole-school commitment to the environment is embodied by the students’ unique ‘pledge plates’, which they have created to demonstrate the changes they are making in their own lives to help the environment, from conserving water, to eating less meat.