For World Environmental Education Day, we spoke with four of the 70 Spanish ambassadors working to raise awareness, particularly among the younger generation, about climate change and its consequences
Por Agathe Cortes y Sofía Garro 25 January 2022 EU projects
Like many other children, Lucía Gonzalez dreamed of changing the world. Growing up, her biggest dream was to work at an NGO. But life took her down another path, between pure science and industrial engineering, and today she is a European Climate Pact Ambassador in Spain and creator of Natives, an international platform that introduces sustainability as an essential pillar of education. “With this initiative [present in 70 schools in 12 countries around the world], I’m getting closer and closer to my dream,” Lucía told us over a video chat.
Like many other children, Lucía Gonzalez dreamed of changing the world. Growing up, her biggest dream was to work at an NGO. But life took her down another path, between pure science and industrial engineering, and today she is a European Climate Pact Ambassador in Spain and creator of Natives, an international platform that introduces sustainability as an essential pillar of education. “With this initiative [present in 70 schools in 12 countries around the world], I’m getting closer and closer to my dream,” Lucía told us over a video chat. There are nearly 70 European Climate Pact Ambassadors in Spain working to raise awareness and educate society about one of the biggest challenges we are facing today: climate change. What motivates them is “doing their part”, being “one face of a very complex cube” and, above all, their experience and that of other benchmarks. “Human beings work on inspiration. It is important to get our message out there. A person’s testimony, their experience, is enough to mobilise many others,” Lucía believes.
Juan Luis Muñoz, a teacher since 2016 who is particularly interested in the climate crisis, agrees. For him, it is essential to focus on learning through projects, experiences and life lessons so his students will develop their creativity, motivation and awareness of what is happening to the planet. “It’s important for them to be at the centre,” he adds. Part of an international project on climate action with 2.5 million students in 115 countries, for Juan Luis it is clear that we have to collaborate and seek out outside references and different points of view. “This issue is very transversal,” he says.
According to the ambassadors, the climate emergency can spill over into other disciplines, becoming part of universal education and not merely a separate branch or value added in the curriculum. “With my adult students in French classes, for example, we’ve written a love letter to the planet. These are other ways to get people thinking about the issue and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” he explains.
Ramón Vila, founder and owner of Vision Communication, a communication agency that specialises in raising awareness of social transformation issues, agrees: “It’s working like ants, constantly, and I think our job should be to show that caring for the climate and the planet in general doesn’t have to be boring, quite the opposite really, and that generates a greater common good.”
The next players to bring about change
The ambassadors are focused on the new generation. They seem to be the ones who will bring about the change the world needs. “If we can’t get young people to understand the planet’s challenges, we’ll keep repeating the same mistakes,” Lucía warns. “We tend to label, but education is one and the same. It has to be comprehensive and available to all. Students have to see, understand and experience. That’s the only way things will change,” she insists.
The importance of collaboration comes up several times. “We have to connect schools to the professional world much more, bring experts into the classrooms and coordinate with teachers. In short, the educational community has to be broader and not focused exclusively on what goes on within school walls, oblivious to criteria and experience,” proposes the ambassador in line with the discourse and educational methods of Juan Luis.
Ramón is sure perception of the climate emergency will continue to improve over the coming years, and for that to happen, the coming generations are key “for the simple reason that their climate awareness is very deeply seeded. Figures like Greta Thunberg and other young influencers have got young people interested. And it isn’t a passing fad. I think it’s logical that climate concerns are becoming more widespread in society in general.”
Little steps, big goals
“Act local, think global” is a slogan all the ambassadors interviewed support as a way to promote change in society. They all agree that, to motivate others to follow this path, it is important to focus on the local sphere and taking simple actions. “In the future, this will allow us to detect bigger problems and regain hope. Our goals are too ambitious. We should go from near to far, from specific to abstract,” notes Leticia Gil, currently working at the Toledo Board of Education.
Ramón believes we have to prioritise respect for the environment. From little things like not throwing cigarette butts on the ground or picking up after ourselves, “to bigger things like building an eco-friendly business culture and making that a key part of choosing the people or companies we work with,” he proposes.
“My wish is for us to go from being a society that has become a bit more aware through media bombardment to using our own judgement as citizens and not falling for oversimplifications,” concludes Lucía in line with the rest of the ambassadors interviewed.
The European Climate Pact
The European Climate Pact, as part of the Green Deal, is an EU-wide initiative launched in December 2020 that invites individuals, communities and organisations to take part in fighting climate change, in the ecological transition and in building a greener Europe.
The European Climate Pact Ambassadors are people with different backgrounds from all over Europe who are committed to climate action. They help spread, inspire and support climate action in their communities and networks and are passionate about enacting change.
In line with biotechnology’s commitment to the climate emergency, as part of 11 of the 17 SDG, AseBio is the national coordinator for the Pact and has more than 160 members working to find solutions to climate change.
Foto 1: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash.
Foto 2: (de izquierda a derecha) Juan Luis, Leticia, Ramón y Lucia