Author: project_manager

Using Storytelling to Seek Positive Change in the World

Summary: Storytelling can be a powerful tool for encouraging young people to be active citizens. It inspires empathy, develops skills, raises awareness and provides a sense of agency, all of which motivate young people to make a positive change in their communities and the world.

Keywords: Storytelling, Active Citizen, Agency

Storytelling is a powerful tool for encouraging young people to seek change in the world. Through storytelling, young people can learn about different perspectives, experiences, and cultures, which can help them understand and relate to the issues and challenges facing their communities and the world at large. Storytelling can play a significant role in fostering active citizenship in young people.

 

One way storytelling can encourage active citizenship is by inspiring empathy and compassion. Hearing stories about the struggles and triumphs of others can help young people understand the impact of social and political issues on real people. It can also help them to identify with the people affected by these issues and understand their perspectives. This can motivate them to take action to make a positive difference in their communities. For example, hearing a story about a child who is living in poverty can inspire a young person to volunteer at a local food bank or to advocate for policies that support low-income families.

 

Storytelling can also help young people develop important skills for seeking change. For example, listening to stories about how people have successfully advocated for change can teach young people about effective communication, negotiation, and leadership. Additionally, storytelling can help young people develop critical thinking skills by exposing them to different perspectives and encouraging them to question assumptions and consider different solutions to problems. This can be particularly important in the context of environmental issues, where there may be multiple solutions to a problem and a need to evaluate the pros and cons of each.

 

Another way storytelling can encourage young people to seek change is by raising awareness about important issues. Hearing stories about the impact of climate change, for example, can help young people understand the urgency of the issue and motivate them to take action to reduce their own carbon footprint and advocate for policies that address the problem. Additionally, stories about environmental disasters and their impact on communities and wildlife can help young people understand the importance of protecting the environment and inspire them to take action to reduce pollution and conserve resources.

 

Ultimately, storytelling can also be a way for young people to see themselves as agents of change. Hearing stories of young people who have made a difference in the world can give them the confidence and inspiration they need to believe that they too can make a difference. This can be particularly important for young people who may feel disempowered or disengaged from the political process. Hearing stories of young people who have successfully advocated for change can show them that their voices and actions can make a difference.

 

Storytelling can be a powerful tool for encouraging young people to seek change in the world. By inspiring empathy and compassion, developing important skills, raising awareness about important issues and providing a sense of agency, storytelling can help young people understand the impact of social and political issues and motivate them to take action to make a positive difference in their communities and the world. Whether it be through books, movies, podcasts, or community storytelling events, it is important to provide young people with a variety of stories that reflect the diversity of perspectives and experiences in the world. In this way, they can be better equipped to understand and engage with the issues that matter most to them and to their communities.

 

References:

Blenkinsop Clarke, K. (2017) “How active storytelling can promote and develop essential language and literacy skills.” Available at: https://www.ecsdn.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Kelly-Blenkinsop-Clarke-Submission.pdf (Accessed: January 18, 2023).

Ethnographies of Participation (2020) “Youth Active Citizenship in Europe.” Available at: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-35794-8 (Accessed: January 18, 2023).

Phillips, L.G. (2010) “Active Citizenship: Storytelling, Stories and Social Actions.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266498430_YOUNG_CHILDREN‘ S_ACTIVE_CITIZENSHIP_STORYTELLING_STORIES_AND_SOCIAL_ACTIONS (Accessed: January 18, 2023).

World Bank (2014) “Breaking the Barriers to Youth Inclusion: Youth Participation, Voice and Active Citizenship.” Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/MNA/breaking_the_barriers_to_youth_inclusion_eng_chap2.pdf (Accessed: January 18, 2023).

Active Youth of the 21st Century

Summary: Active citizenship involves being engaged and invested in the community, taking actions to improve society, and using one’s voice to advocate for social and political issues. It is important for young people to learn and practice active citizenship to shape the future and make a positive impact on their communities.

Keywords: Climate Change, Active Citizenship, and Active Youth

Active citizenship allows young people to become informed about the issues that affect their communities and to take action to create positive change. For example, SDG goal number two, Zero Hunger, aims to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. By volunteering at a local food bank, or supporting sustainable agriculture, young people can actively work towards achieving this goal. Similarly, SDG goal number four, Quality Education, aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Young people can become involved in improving their local schools or advocating for education policies that support marginalised communities.

Furthermore, active citizenship also allows young people to develop leadership skills and gain valuable experience in planning, organizing, and making decisions. Through participating in local projects, volunteering, or serving on boards or committees, young people can gain the skills and experience they need to become effective leaders in their communities and beyond. This is crucial in achieving the SDGs, as it requires collective efforts and leadership from various sectors and stakeholders.

Active citizenship also has the ability to foster a sense of belonging and connection to the community, which is essential to achieving the SDGs. By becoming involved in community-based initiatives, young people can learn more about the issues that affect their community and the people living there. This understanding can foster a sense of empathy, compassion and a sense of responsibility towards the community, which can lead to the development of more inclusive and equitable policies and practices.

Additionally, the SDGs are interdependent, and their achievement relies on the active participation of citizens. For instance, SDG goal number thirteen, Climate Action, aims to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, which requires the participation of citizens in sustainable practices and supporting policies that address climate change. Similarly, SDG goal number five, Gender Equality, aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls, which requires the active participation of citizens in challenging gender stereotypes and promoting gender-inclusive policies.

In conclusion, the SDGs and active citizenship are closely linked, and both are essential for youth in the 21st century. The SDGs provide a framework for addressing the most pressing global issues, and active citizenship provides young people with the opportunity to become informed, engaged and active in their communities. By working together, young people can play a vital role in making the world a better place for themselves and future generations. Encouraging and supporting young people to become active citizens and aware of the SDGs is crucial for achieving a sustainable future for all.

 

References:

British Council (2022) “Active Citizens.” Available at: https://active-citizens.britishcouncil.org/about (Accessed: July 26, 2022).

Gov UK (2021) “Over 80% of young people eager to take action to help the environment.” Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/over-80-of-young-people-eager-to-take-action-to-help-the-environment (Accessed: July 26, 2022).

Imperial College London (2022) “Majority of young people distressed about climate change, even during pandemic.” Available at: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/239251/majority-young-people-distressed-about-climate/ (Accessed: July 26, 2022).

SALTO YOUTH (2022) “What can You(th) do? Empowering Youth Through Active Citizenship.” Available at: https://www.salto-youth.net/tools/otlas-partner-finding/project/what-can-you-th-do-empowering-youth-through-active-citizenship.12783/ (Accessed: July 26, 2022).

United Nations (2022) “Youth in Action .” Available at: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/youth-in-action (Accessed: July 26, 2022).

 

What happens when humans interfere with nature?

People love to mix with the natural world. In fact, we have been interfering with our environment for tens of thousands of years, ever since our ancestors carved stone tools around the fire. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, from tsunamis to killer epidemics, many human interventions have been disastrous.

The way we live our lives, the things we produce and consume, and the way we move around, all impact the environment in a variety of damaging ways. To save our planet, we need to be aware of these impacts. As we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.

Some examples that indicate the extent to which humans have affected the environment negatively with disastrous consequences.

  1. Sparrow slaughter in China triggers insect epidemics

In the late 1950s, China’s leader, Mao Zedong, wanted to rapidly industrialise the country. This included the “Four Pest Campaign”, targeting mosquitoes, rats, flies – and sparrows.

He ordered all the sparrows in the country to be killed because he believed they were feeding on rice and grain and reducing the amount available for humans. Citizens were ordered to shoot the birds, tear down their nests, break their eggs and hit the pots so that they would scare the sky and fall exhausted to their deaths.

Sparrows were driven to near extinction in China. What officials didn’t realize is that sparrows rely on cereals for only a small part of their diet: most of it consists of insects. After the mass cull, there was an explosion of insect pests that devastated the country’s crops.

“This ecological disaster combined with years of drought and destructive agricultural policies led to one of the most devastating famines in history. An estimated 45 million people died,” says Professor Marc Cadotte, an ecologist at the University of Toronto.

  1. Pesticides kill more than harmful pests

Since the Second World War, our main defence against crop pests has been artificial pesticides. But these chemicals also kill useful insects, such as parasitoid wasps, laurel and ladybugs. These hunt common pests and provide support for farmers and gardeners.

Researchers in Brazil have found that ants can be more effective than pesticides in helping farmers produce food. At the same time, they reduce damage to plants and increase yields. This is because they are “generalist” predators, going after pests that damage fruits, seeds and leaves.

The scientists examined the impact of 26 ant species on 17 crops. They found that they do better in diversified farming systems, such as agroforestry and shade crops, since there are more places for them to nest.

  1. Indian vultures are declining and the number of rabies cases is increasing

In the early 1990s, vultures across India began to die inexplicably. The long-beaked vultures, the slender-billed vulture and the eastern white vulture declined to the brink of extinction. The number of the three most common vulture species in India declined by more than 97% between 1992 and 2007.

Six other species also declined sharply. Scientists began examining the dead birds. They found that they had been exposed to diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug commonly given to cattle in South Asia. The vultures were feeding on the carcasses of cows and were poisoned.

This was the beginning of a widespread chain reaction. As vulture populations collapsed, cow carcasses began to accumulate and the number of rats and wild dogs increased dramatically. Dogs became the main scavengers in the dumps previously used by vultures.

If you want to learn more about the effectiveness of the human activity in our planet and what actions we should undertake, then read Module 3- NECESSARY BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES, CULTURAL AND HUMAN VALUES, CONSUMPTION HABITS AND LIFESTYLES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

 

Adapted by the article available at: https://www.in.gr/2022/12/28/b-science/perivallon-b-science/ti-symvainei-otan-oi-anthrop

What are the outcomes of COP27?

The final curtain went down for COP27 on the 20th of November 2022 achieving breakthrough agreements concerning climate change. COP27 was an opportunity to move the needle on all governments, private sector, civil society, and communities to champion for responding to the global emergency of climate crisis, and for supporting countries to realize their pledges on climate action.

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry mentioned: “Despite the difficulties and challenges of our times, the divergence of views, level of ambition or apprehension, we remain committed to the fight against climate change…

 

What is exactly COP27?

COP27 refers to the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference held from 6th of November until the 20th of November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. It took place under the presidency of Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry, and brought together more than 45,000 participants – environment ministers, civil servants, negotiators, businesses, and members of the public-to share ideas, solutions, and build partnerships and coalitions. At the same time, indigenous peoples, local communities, cities and civil society, including youth and children, showcased how they are addressing climate change and shared how it impacts their lives.

It was the first time ever that children had an official space at a UN climate change conference in Egypt, with UN Climate Change’s Executive Secretary promising to urge governments to not just listen to the solutions put forward by young people, but to incorporate those solutions in decision and policy making. The newly-announced Children and Youth Pavilion enabled them to hold discussions and policy briefings. It was a unique chance to amplify the voices of young people and drive action on global climate policies vital to securing our future by addressing urgent issues of all fields.

 

What was finally agreed by the Conference?

After two weeks of intense discussions, the members of COP27 reached crucial final decisions dedicated to the prevention of more consequences of the environmental crisis and to the mitigation of the already existing impacts that sound the alarm for action.

More specifically, COP27 will go down in history as the UN climate change conference where the most remarkable deal was achieved after crucial climate talks: a global fund for “Loss and Damage”. It was an issue that dominated this year’s summit. But what is the significance of this decision? It refers to the financial assistance from nations, who are the greatest contributors to climate change, to developing countries stricken by the most severe consequences of climate change. After decades of pushing, this is a momentous victory for more than 130 developing countries, who were demanding for a new fund to help them save lives and livelihoods by coping with the irreparable damage of floods, drought and other climate impact.

Not only that, but also COP27 resulted in countries delivering a package of decisions that reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement, the goal of which is to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The package also strengthened action by countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, as well as boosting the support of finance, technology and capacity building needed by developing countries.

At the same time, mitigation was an important topic to be discussed.

A work programme was launched in Sharm el-Sheikh, aimed at urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation. The work programme will start immediately following COP27 and continue until 2030, with at least two global dialogues held each year.

 

The final decision text recognizes that the unprecedented global energy crisis underlines the urgency to rapidly transform energy systems to be more secure, reliable, and resilient during this critical decade of action.

Finally, as António Guterres- the secretary-general of the United Nations- mentioned during the Conference:

Justice and ambition require the essential voice of civil society.

The most vital energy source in the world is people power. 

That is why it is so important to understand the human rights dimension of climate action.…..

It will take each and every one of us fighting in the trenches each and every day. 

Together, let’s not relent in the fight for climate justice and climate ambition.  

 We can and must win this battle for our lives.

Active Youth 4 Life in a nutshell

ACTIVEYOUTH4Life project, funded under the Erasmus + program KA2 – Cooperation Partnerships in Youth KA220, is focused on shaping young active citizens, but also agents of change for environmental and sustainable development . Three non-profit organizations, one research and development center, one private company and one aggregator of people and companies from Spain, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina join their forces to implement this project having a common goal: To apply a holistic approach, addressing both youth workers, trainers, educators and youths so as to provide new alternative, inspirational means for engaging youths and cultivating their active citizenship mindset, in order for them to be able to act as responsible citizens by adopting sustainable lifestyles and taking responsibility for the environment, embracing their dynamic potential to cope with complexity as thriving individuals/ citizens. How are we going to achieve these results? According to one of the main principles of the project, innovative practices and tools will be provided, such as filmmaking and serious gaming through ‘the art of storytelling’, so as, to prepare educators, trainers, youth workers and youths to become true agents of change via cultivation of LIFECOMP competences.

 

Why is it important?

The era that we go through is characterized by the distancing of young people from the participation of social life, but also by the immense problem of climate change. Consequences of the environmental crisis can be observed on many different aspects and for this reason it is urgent to act now in order to tackle climate change issues. Young people, who are the future of our society, are called to be the main actors of this reaction, of this change of our habits in a way to create a more sustainable daily life and to try to prevent side-effects of climate change to the most. For this reason, it is very important to cultivate active citizens, aware of the problems of the society and willingful to try to make a change.

The tools, chosen for the implementation of this project and for the attainment of the target goal, are associated with the realization that in 2022 young people receive much of their education, information and entertainment through phones, notebooks, iPads, TV. Filmmaking can,given these premises, be capable, in a safe and effective way, of exploring sensitive issues, of increasing the confidence of young people, but also the feeling of solidarity and cooperation among them. It becomes possible to create a virtual community space for the promotion of dialogue and collaboration among youths, motivating them to take initiatives towards a common goal: how to take action against climate change.

At what stage we are now…

 

“Active Youth 4 Life” will be implemented in the years 2022-2024.

It  is already in the process of making a change, as two meetings have already taken place : the first one in April 2022 in Spain and the second one in October 2022 in Cyprus. At this stage of the project, we start developing training approaches through the use of  different techniques-filmmaking and digital escape rooms- for enhancing young people’s civic participation, environmental and sustainability awareness.

 

You can find more about “Active Youth 4 Life” project:

On the website: https://activeyouth4life.eu/

On the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/activeyouth4life/

How young people can become agents of change?

The World Youth Report on “Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, prepared by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), examines the mutually supportive roles of the new agenda and current youth development efforts. The report provides insight into the role of young people in sustainable development in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related frameworks, in particular, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the World Programme of Action for Youth.

The Report considers the role the 2030 Agenda can play in enhancing youth development efforts and examines how evidence-based youth policies can help accelerate youth-related objectives. It explores the critical role young people have in the implementation of sustainable development efforts at all levels.

Advancing Youth Development

Far from being mere beneficiaries of the 2030 Agenda, young people have been active architects in its development and continue to be engaged in the frameworks and processes that support its implementation, follow-up and review. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda represented the culmination of an extensive three-year process involving Member States and civil society, including youth organizations, in the development of specific goals and targets—and marked the beginning of a 15-year journey to achieve sustainable development by 2030.

Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. The active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies by the target date, and to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration. While all the Sustainable Development Goals are critical to youth development, this Report focuses
primarily on the areas of education and employment, underlining the realization of targets under these Goals as fundamental to overall youth development. Issues related to other Goals—including gender equality, good health, reducing inequality, combating poverty and hunger, and action on environmental issues and climate change—are also addressed briefly within the scope of the Report.

 

What triggered their engagement for climate change?

Why is this generation so committed to climate change? From a young age, they have heard about climate change, they are also seeing its impact in their daily lives. Nathan, a youth, got involved in Youth and Environment Europe, a platform which brings together many European youth organisations active in environmental protection; the revelation moment came directly from his homeland when he saw the Alps melting.

All of them want to make something meaningful in their life, connecting their studies and their interest in nature and environmental issues. This is the case of Alex, who has a masters’ degree in Conservation and got active in an NGO to build bridges between young people and policy-makers at European Level. “At the EU level there wasn’t a lot of youth participation in environmental decision-making and we really wanted to bring people together“. This is how he got engaged with Generation Climate Europe (GCE), an environmental coalition of the main youth-led organisations and networks active at the European level.

How to get involved

Youth are the torchbearers of the 2030 Agenda – young people all over the world are contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Here are a few easy ways you can get involved:

  1. Get involved in a local NGO

Participating in a local NGO is a worthwhile way of supporting sustainable development efforts. For inspiration, read about the NGOs featured as case studies in the Report – from Restless Development, which helps youth participate in national decision-making processes related to the SDGs, to The Butterfly Project, which gives young women in India the confidence to demand change in their local communities, there is an incredible range of NGOs all doing amazing work globally to advance the SDGs.

  1. Get engaged in local politics

The engagement of young people in local politics is crucial to raising awareness of youth-related issues and demanding change.  Read about the Not Too Young to Run campaign, an initiative anyone can join to support young people’s right to run for office:  http://www.nottooyoungtorun.org/

  1. Join Youth4Peace to help promote and maintain international peace and security

Youth4Peace is an UN-led initiative that supports young people’s participation in peacebuilding.  It recognizes that young people play active roles as agents of positive and constructive change and helps them achieve this.  Get involved here: https://www.youth4peace.info/

 

References

Youth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development | United Nations For Youth. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/world-youth-report/wyr2018.html

WAYS TO CONTRIBUTE WITH THE 17 SDGS

What is sustainable development?

 

Sustainable development is a concept that appeared for the first time in the year 1987 with the publication of the Brundtland Report, a document established within the framework of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) which warned about the negative environmental consequences of globalisation and economic development and sought possible solutions to the problems arising from industrialisation and population growth. However, it wasn’t until the year 1997 during the ‘Earth Summit’(La Cumbre de la Tierra) in Rio de Janeiro that the concept of sustainable development was made official.

 

What are the SDGs?

 

In the light of guaranteeing the balance between economic growth, environmental preservation and social welfare, in the year 2015 United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda sets out the Sustainable Development Goals, a series of common objectives to protect the planet and ensure the balance between the latter outcomes becomes effective.

 

What measures can you take to support these goals?

 

  • Find a charity which addresses any of the goals’ objectives and try to make a donation. No matter how small or big, everything counts!
  • Donate books/clothes/toys/furniture you have already used and don’t need any longer to allow other people access resources.
  • Offer yourself to be someone’s mentor/tutor and help them with those subjects they struggle with
  • Support equal salaries between men and women
  • Try to recognize and avoid gender stereotypes and make other people conscious about them
  • Ensure you share domestic responsibilities with your partner/male figures at home
  • Raise awareness about hygiene issues in your community through social media or other type of campaigns
  • Participate in water-cleaning-up projects
  • Turn off the lights whenever you aren’t using them
  • Use renewable energies
  • Buy consciously. Take into account that the consumption of very cheap items might be damageful for those producing them
  • Buy from local producers rather than big multinationals
  • Help people access the internet by promoting free hot-spot points
  • Raise your voice against any type of discrimination
  • Represent minorities and under privileged groups in the government
  • Support migrants and refugees

What is sustainable development and sustainable lifestyle? How can young people contribute to it?

The term “sustainable development” was defined in the report Our Common Future (or the Brundtland Report), published by United Nations in 1987. According to the report, sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. With this report, the environmental issues were, for the first time, raised to a level of political agenda. Since then, development and environment have been observed concerning each other. Fast forward to 2015, United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals. All the Development Goals are interconnected and call for global partnership and action to improve the quality of human life while preserving the environment and dealing with climate change. Each goal contains targets and indicators, so each is measurable and achievable.

 

Even though the 17 Sustainable Development Goals aim to make positive global changes, the world is comprised of individuals. Each individual leaves a mark, or a positive of negative footprint on the planet, by unintentional or intentional action. Both positive and negative environmental footprints can be calculated through online calculators. Most of the time, it is a matter of conscious choice to act and preserve the environment. The choices that we make every day can leave a positive or negative mark, often regardless of the public policies. Therefore, if one actively contributes to preserving the environment and natural resources, it adds to sustainable development in the long term and for future generations.

 

What can a young individual do to contribute to a sustainable environment? Well, for starters, he or she can make sustainable lifestyle choices:

 

  • Sustainable water usage – remember that in the future, running water might become luxury
  • Growing or supporting local organic foods – buying at the local food market
  • Minimizing the food waste – not purchasing large quantities of food that might expire unused
  • Using sustainable materials – locally sourced materials or recycled materials are usually used by local companies
  • Minimizing the usage of plastic in everyday life – omitting the plastic bottles and bags
  • Recycling – adequate sorting of waste in each household, especially electronic waste
  • Using sustainable transport – preferably electric public transport or cars, carpooling
  • Aim to produce as less as possible waste by choosing higher quality over higher quantity
  • Creating own healthy environment – enjoying activities in nature and learning to appreciate the nature
  • Cherishing local culture and supporting crafts that mostly produce less waste and are based on local materials and products

 

The next step is taking active participation in society in the form of active citizenship as an individual. Realizing that each individual has value voice and can make a choice to participate in their local community actively is an important step for young people to contribute to a more inclusive society and sustainable development.

 

Nonetheless, no society is isolated in the age of globalization. Therefore, we all are global citizens and can positively contribute to sustainable development. According to Sustainable Goal 4: Insuring Inclusive and Quality Education for All and Promote Life Long Learning, global citizenship is one of the targets to be reached. Educating young people through formal and non-formal education contributes to understanding global citizenship and sustainable development and, in the long-term creating a sense of individual responsibility within local and global society.

How our past habits need to change for saving our planet

Nowadays, everywhere that you look you can realize that various phenomena are caused by human activity. Extensive fires, heat waves, draught, ice melting in the earth’s poles are phenomena that highlight the need to take action and to be more radical in mitigating them. Terms such as “sustainability’ and “environmental awareness” have arisen gaining ground and showing that there is a need to do something immediately. It Is universally accepted that all these phenomena derive from the same basis. And that is human behaviour and habits.

But how these “habits” can have this deep and absolute effect on our planet? Well, people make choices always in their lives and based on these choices they act accordingly. But how many choices are conscious? To understand how habits function, we need a definition. According to Verplanken, habits can be defined as “memory-based propensities to respond automatically to specific cues, which are acquired by the repetition of cue-specific behaviour in stable contexts” (2018, p. 4). To put it simply, when you have a specific automatic response/ behaviour in certain circumstances then this a habit. It constitutes a mechanism that functions subconsciously which is based on repetition and learning. When we react in stimuli in the same way, each and every time this reaction is being repeated, is strengthened, thus leading to become a habit.

Having habits does not necessarily mean something bad. In fact, there are good habits (hardworking, honesty, taking exercise) and bad ones (alcoholism, drug addiction, selfishness, dishonesty etc).  One may think that habits have no connection to sustainability and climate change, but is this so? Habits specifically emphasize on how our behaviour is heavily reliant on automatic processes. For instance, if you have learnt from your home that when washing the dishes you don’t turn off the tap leaving tons of water running, well yes! This is a habit that places a significant burden on the environment by wasting water resources.

And the question here is whether we can break old, bad habits or create new habits that promote environmental awareness and contribute to the sustainability of our planet. The good news is that people, if they want to, they can control their behaviour through various ways. In their research, Linder et al (2022) indicate three ways for changing habits:

  1. Implementation- Intention: In other words, people choose intentionally to react in a certain way in certain cases, to achieve specific, desirable goals. By exploiting the mechanism already exists for establishing behaviours through systematic repetition, a new desirable habit is developed.
  2. Self-monitoring and cue identification: To put it simply, if you want to break free from unwanted habits you have to monitor when they take place and change your reaction.
  3. Habit discontinuity hypothesis: Changes in the context may lead to the discontinuity of all habits. This kind of discontinuities may occur in life transitions e.g., from finishing College and starting working, or changing environments by moving to a new place, or country and so on. These transitions constitute a good chance to change our perceptions of our past behaviour and break free from bad habits.

What is made clear from the abovementioned issues, is that habits have the power to change the way we behave towards our planet and its resources. Apart from this, they define who we are, shaping our identity which is based on our actions. Therefore, monitoring our past behaviour and decoding the reasons that led us to specific actions may be the key for creating more environmentally and sustainable aware citizens.

The ACTIVEYOUTH4Life project recognizes this need to learn more about habits and how they shape our self-perception, our values, beliefs, and self-identity and that is why a whole training module is dedicated to them!

 

References

Kaaronen, R.O. 2017. Affording sustainability: Adopting a theory of affordances as a guiding heuristic for environmental policy. Frontiers in Psychology 8: 1–13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01974.

Linder, N., Giusti, M., Samuelsson, K. et al. Pro-environmental habits: An underexplored research agenda in sustainability science. Ambio 51, 546–556 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-021-01619-6

Verplanken, B. 2018. Introduction. In The psychology of habit: Theory, Mechanisms, Change, And Contexts, ed. B. Verplanken, 1–10. Cham: Springer.

GreenComp: The European sustainability competence framework

Regenerating nature, respecting biodiversity, ensuring a dignified life for all people is an urgent duty that can no longer be avoided. Giving value to the environment on which depends our future as a species and the future of the planet we live on requires the abandonment of unsustainable practices and an urgent systemic change.

However, this change cannot be achieved only through political agreements, financial incentives, or technological innovations, however essential they may be. Lasting and true change also requires learning, which is crucial to building the present and future of the planet and new generations. Having a common understanding means acting through a shared strategy: understanding, acting and addressing this crisis together.

It is from these considerations that GreenComp was born, the new European framework of competencies on sustainability proposed at the beginning of the year by the European Commission. GreenComp is in fact the actual research of a common vocabulary, a shared horizon, a reference model for dialogue, learning, exchange of good sustainable practices to encourage a ‘participatory action towards a possible future, alternative to build.

The concept of Sustainability given its complex nature is ambiguous and constantly evolving and unilaterally irreducible only to specific fields of knowledge and actions. If by sustainability we mean, as GreenComp indicates “prioritising the needs of all life forms and of the planet by ensuring that human activity does not exceed planetary boundaries”, it is clear that the direction in which the Commission pushes us can only be a systemic and interrelated vision in which environment, society and economy intersect together. To further clarify this ambiguity there is the definition of sustainable competencies ” Empowers learners to embody sustainability values, and embrace complex systems, in order to take or request action that restores and maintains ecosystem health and enhances justice, generating visions for sustainable futures“.  It seems clear the necessary synergistic movement that Europe intends to emphasize: it is necessary to educate civil society and political governance to actions aimed at justice (be it social, environmental, economic) for the health of the planet itself and all beings who inhabit it by maintaining that vital balance improperly and fiercely disrupted by ‘over-exploitation of its resources. It is in this sense that the economy should only be functional to a society and the latter should live in an equal and dignified way within an environment that gives as much as it receives.

But, in order to achieve what today seems to be a sustainable utopia, it is necessary, as always, to start from education and training and, even before that, from a common language and the achievement of those skills – knowledge, attitudes – that allow us to orient ourselves in the complexity in question. For this reason, all twelve competencies illustrated by GreenComp become fundamental in a sort of movement that moves from the inside, from the assumption of sustainable values and their complexity, towards the outside, towards the imagination of collective, participatory, democratic sustainable futures possible only through individual, collective and political actions.

But since the refrain of the holistic vision never abandons us, the end becomes the beginning, the outside, the action starts from GreenComp itself, from the formation with the purpose of the new year to reach everyone regardless of age, education and geography so that the world and the future can be truly participated without leaving anyone behind. So the cover image that is given to us is evocative and symbolic of an eco-systemic balance that is reflected in the horizon of its understanding: a beehive that embodies the values of sustainability (embodying sustainability values), the bees, collective and individual individuals who inhabit and care for it (acting for sustainability) and rest on the flowers (envisioning sustainable futures) that will generate new fruits and new pollen (embracing complexity in sustainability), food for the bees and the foundation of life itself.

 

Reference:

https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC128040

 

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