7 minutes reading time (1335 words)

Addressing ecosystem restoration through climate literacy

As the world marches out to tackle climate change through literacy, ETN discusses issues at the heart of the campaign with Kathleen Rogers, President - EARTHDAY.ORG.

Kathleen Rogers, President - EARTHDAY.ORG.

Q. The global youth is coming together on April 20 to demand climate action in collaboration with My Future My Voice as well as OneMillionOfUs. What is the kind of action that the youth will take on this day?

This event is coordinated solely by youth climate activists. They are intentionally making it a youth-led event, exclusively with youth speakers. EARTHDAY.ORG will be amplifying this event by streaming it on our social media and website.

Q. Earth Day Live is holding a digital event with focus on Restore Our Earth. What are the events being planned and what issues are being addressed? Will there be any follow up to measure success in the efforts put in?

This Earth Day, EARTHDAY.ORG will bring together activists, educators, researchers, musicians, artists, influencers and more, for its second-annual 'Earth Day Live: Restore Our Earth digital' Livestream event. Parallel to the Biden Administration's global climate summit, the event will feature panel discussions, films, and special musical performances that explore the natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems. Topics will include climate and environmental literacy, climate restoration technologies, reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture, equity, and environmental justice, citizen science, cleanups, and beyond.

Additionally, clean-up will be taking place around the world through our 'The Great Global Cleanup' campaign to remove a billion pieces of trash from our parks, beaches, cities, and waterways.

We will measure success by tracking actions taken and events hosted through our website registration, social media, and analytics from our citizen science app. Long-term success will be demonstrated by widespread policy implementation to address ecosystem restoration, climate action, and formally embedding climate literacy into school systems across the globe.

Q. EARTHDAY.ORG brings together all types of communities to talk about environmental issues. Could you elaborate on the agenda and how you carry out a plan of action?

Throughout Earth Week, we will engage with individuals, communities, partners, and organizations from around the world. Each brings a unique perspective to the climate change discussion. Our digital event features participants from different generations, professions, and ethnicities to discuss innovative technologies and solutions to combat our global climate issues.

With our mission to diversify the environmental movement, we work to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice across all of our campaigns. By working with leaders from the environment, education, justice, faith, labor, government, advocacy, and youth sectors, we welcome all voices to make a stronger and more inclusive movement.

Q. What will be the themes of the Earth Day Live digital event? What steps do you expect from the Biden administration on April 22?

Earth Day's 2021 theme, Restore Our Earth, examines natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems. This Earth Day, our digital event will feature experts, public officials, activists, and more discussing climate and environmental literacy, regenerative agriculture, reforestation, environmental justice, and ending plastic pollution. We hope that President Biden's Global Leaders summit on Earth Day will spur a wave of legislation around the world to address all aspects of our theme.

Q. What is the strongest stand the youth can take up for their cause of a sustainable future in this time of extreme deprivation due to the pandemic? In what way can these drops in the ocean create a tidal wave of action?

Collective impact is what turns drops in the ocean into a tidal wave of action. It all adds up if we can each do our part. The most important thing youth can do is to understand their local environmental circumstances before addressing the global climate crisis as a whole. Students need to develop local climate literacy to understand how the ecological systems in their community are impacted by human behavior and how in turn the ecological systems impact our behavior.

Climate change is a variable crisis that manifests in different ways across the globe. Some places may experience more rain and severe storms while others are experiencing devastating droughts. Students must learn what climate impacts are most relative to their communities and livelihoods and take action to address those while learning how their communities are connected to the global climate system.

Q. How does Earth Day quantify and evaluate cost and effort put into say a Climate Literacy effort leading to Stewardship? What criteria are used to assess the creation of green jobs and sustainable agriculture?

Through our Climate Literacy Campaign, EARTHDAY.ORG and our partners are working to catalyze international support for strong outcomes on climate and environmental literacy at the UN climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow. One that ensures all nations are firmly committed to requiring that all students experience the compulsory and high-quality climate and environmental education, coupled with civic education that meets the challenges and opportunities unfolding in the 21st century.

The first benchmark will be to understand the outcomes of President Biden's Climate Summit on Earth Day this April. We believe that developing climate-literate students will lead to a massive increase in environmentally-minded and innovative young professionals entering the workforce who can bring sustainable practices into any career field. While it is critical to have professionals working toward green, renewable energy, and low-emission industries, it is also equally important to have doctors, teachers, accountants, janitors, farmers, and government officials who are climate-literate and doing what they can to protect the planet in their professions.

Part of our climate literacy initiative is to have individuals understand their local food systems as well. The global agriculture and food industries need massive, systemic changes. This will come from both the top-down and the bottom-up. We can work within education to help people understand the impacts of their food choices and how to have less impact on the planet through different decisions. We also need sweeping global and national policies to encourage and incentivize sustainable agricultural systems that can safely and efficiently feed a growing population.

Q. Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit is aptly focused on educating to save Mother Earth. What are the small steps that will be taught, which can be implemented at every level and will create a mass movement?

Climate literacy mustn't be the sole responsibility of science teachers worldwide. EARTHDAY.ORG envisions that climate-literate students will come from a primary education system that universally embeds climate and environmental education across grade levels and disciplines. By breaking down academic silos, we can demonstrate to students the real-world application of the content and how they can be active participants in finding sustainable solutions that are community-based as well as equitable. We believe that climate and environmental education must also be balanced with a strong civic education component that prepares students to be active participants in their communities.

Q. Is there a specific syllabus that the organizers of Earth Week will put forth to the Biden Administration and the world in general, as important content to build literacy regarding climate science and the skills to change course and think green?

Our first barrier to overcome and goal to strive for is that global leaders discuss climate education as a solution to the climate crisis. At this point, we do not see environmental education as a topic to be discussed among world leaders. EARTHDAY.ORG is working with domestic and global partners and leaders to ensure that it is discussed as a critical piece of the puzzle that has been missing for many years.

During these crucial conversations at the Biden Administration's climate summit, we hope that leaders from other countries will mention their commitments to climate literacy. It is also important that they discuss how we can work together to support each other and also nations of the global south with fewer resources to revolutionize the education system to better prepare students to be effective stewards of our planet.

Author : Ashok Thakur
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