This is a guest blog by Abhayjeet Singh Sachal, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Break The Divide Foundation and Grade 12 Student at Seaquam Secondary in Delta BC, who placed first in our Young Reporters for the Environment Program in 2017.
Change starts with conversation. This is something I’ve known since my eighth grade class, where my teacher Mr. Iachetta introduced sustainability into social studies lessons. Since then, I’ve traveled to the Arctic, where discussions with Inuit youth gave me true insights on the realities of climate change.
The power of conversation was a major theme at the 2018 North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Conference. I had the honor of attending the major conference thanks to the support of the Delta School District.
Ultimately, I came away from the conference with a greater understanding of the inter-connectivity between subjects like environmental education, equity and representation, and infrastructure and human health. At almost every session I attended, engaging environmental professionals discussed the necessity of building personal connections with nature among the general public. It is only through a strong relationship with the natural environment that people will have a reason to live sustainably. By demonstrating the specific effects of climate change on local communities across North America we can drive the conversation about real world climate impacts on day to day life around the globe.
I also had the chance to attend several conference sessions where we discussed the importance of having a diversity of perspectives on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Often, it is people living in impoverished communities that experience the worst effects of climate change. As atmospheric carbon levels continue to rise, we must recognize that climate resiliency must involve people from all walks of life contributing to solutions. Specifically, Indigenous knowledge is essential to our production of new climate adaptation strategies. Beyond reconciliation comes the involvement of Indigenous views and expertise to build local knowledge of environments.
Above all, it is imperative that we remain optimistic. Progress can happen quickly when masses of people realize the impact that climate change will have on their personal lives. Climate change impacts everyone on the face of this planet and only through personal connections and a diversity of perspectives can we tackle the issue effectively.
We all have the power to make a profound impact on the lives of others; at the NAAEE conference, it was clear that we need to start using that power today.
Want to learn more about getting involved with Young Reporters for the Environment? Visit www.youngreporters.ca.