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A youth’s call for climate action – “Young Voices” video project

"Young voices" video presented at the 2019 European Climate Change Adaptation conference
ECCA 2019: Call for action – young people’s perspective on climate change

This blog has been contributed by Julia Bentz,a postdoc researcher at the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (ce3c), University of Lisbon, Portugal. In her current project ART FOR ADAPTATION, Julia is focusing on the question of how can art and creative practices contribute to broader, deeper and more inclusive perspectives on climate change. She is also affiliated with the PLACARD project (University of Lisbon) and AdaptationCONNECTS project (University of Oslo).

Youth engagement through art at the 2019 European Climate Change Adaptation conference

Youth Participation in Decision Making

Worldwide there is a lack of youth participation in public decisions around climate change. These same youth are disproportionately affected by disasters and climate change hazards and have limited voices over the decisions and policies related to disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and community resilience despite calls for their empowerment as strong stakeholders in these issues. Additionally, youth will soon be moving to leadership roles in spaces of decision-making, and inheriting the consequences of climate change and policies and actions that are being co-constructed today. Actively engaging and empowering children and youth to address the complex problems of climate change is a critical step to achieving resilience at local, regional, and national levels.

“Young Voices” project at the 2019 European Climate Change Adaptation conference

Therefore, one of the objectives of the 2019 European Climate Change Adaptation conference was to meaningfully and creatively engage young people and give them a voice to express themselves about climate change and possible responses.

Within “young voices” an interactive and multimedia project, young people were engaged in the production of a climate spot for the conference. Students of Antonio Arroio Art High School, Lisbon interviewed young people in Lisbon about their perceptions on climate change. Later a professional shooting was organized during three days in the studio of the school. The process was coordinated and guided together with the director Johanna Bentz. The created video was displayed in the closing plenary of the ECCA 2019 and is currently distributed in social media.

The video shows that young people are very concerned about the impacts of climate change and the future. When asked about their vision of the future, most of the interviewed students described a rather dark, dystopian place. In terms of solutions, they seem to have limited knowledge about how to contribute in their daily lives to mitigation or to start a movement with others highlighting the need for better communication and education in this sense. It appears also hard for them to imagine a change of established norms and systems showing that empowering young people to be “systems changers” is not straightforward at all. It is particularly challenging within educational systems that prioritize instrumental learning over critical thinking and creative actions.

Arts and Policy

Creating novel spaces for reflexivity and experimentation is crucial to shift mindsets and open up new political horizons. Climate-related art projects can be more than a form of science communication. They can represent a process of opening up imaginative spaces where young people and adults can move more freely and reconsider the role of humans as responsible beings with agency and a stake in sustainability transformations.

Video Credits

  • Concept and idea: Julia Bentz and Johanna Bentz
  • Realisation: Johanna Bentz
  • Interviewing: Julia Bentz
  • Camera & light: Guilherme Daniel
  • Editing and Postproduction: Elisa Purfürst
  • Production: Johanna Bentz and Julia Bentz
  • With: students of Escola Artistica Antonio Arroio and St. Julian’s School, Lisbon