Intergenerational climate action

Network meet-up at the Glasgow Science Centre

It’s a sunny morning across Scotland – big blue skies, snowdrops and less snow than last week – and it really feels like Spring. The Intergenerational National Network meetup starts off with lots of hellos, co-ordinator Pat welcoming everyone and lots of interesting info shared about projects I’ve never heard of – like the Children’s University!

It feels like we’re all gathered around having a chat and coffee together in the sunny glass-covered dome of Glasgow Science Centre – our virtual host for the meet-up. INN meet-ups always full of rich conversations and space for forming new connections, and this meeting wasn’t an exception!

Sharing ideas before COP26

First Alison from Glasgow Science Centre set the scene – important action and decisions are happening around our shared climate future. With the COP26 taking place in Glasgow this year, conversations are happening on how to speed up action towards the goals of international climate change frameworks – like the Paris Agreement and the UN convention on climate change. Communities in Scotland are working to find different ways to have their voices heard in this conversation.

Climate change and the environment are areas where it’s vital to work together, internationally and including everyone. The planet we share is everyone’s concern – and we’re confident multigenerational co-operation is part of changing how we take care of it.

Glasgow Science Centre: Our World Our Impact resources

Glasgow Science Centre has shared ‘Our World Our Impact’ learning resources – which are engaging and interesting for children and students, as well as adults support them to learn! With many families home-schooling in lockdown, these learning materials look very useful for understanding the issues around COP26.

As well as explaining the science of human-caused interference with the climate system, their resources are shaped around 5 climate themes from Climate Justice to local and global connections.

We also had a bit of a chat on how Scotland could have a circular economy in the future – and how this could help making housing and shared spaces more accessible!

Creative, rights-based action with the Children’s Parliament

The Children’s Parliament explained how children and young people have been leading as climate investigators in their communities. As members of the Climate Assembly need to be 16 or older, the Children’s Parliament set up a Children’s Citizen Climate Assembly so people under 16 can feed into national policy. This is a big step – children’s citizens assemblies are a new and usually children have been left out of important discussions about the climate.

100 children across Scotland have been creating videos, communicating their calls to actions to the adults Climate Assembly. Twelve of the children involved have leading roles investigating climate issues and views in their local areas. The difference it makes to enable children’s leadership as co-researchers was clear in the videos the children created, sharing their ideas.

People in the INN meet-up were in awe how the climate assembly members’ videos shared hard truths and big ideas. One idea which got use all thinking was to get the 400 people who own most of the land in Scotland together to talk about land use, access and the environment. It’s the kind of ambitious question which shouldn’t be ignored, even if there are barriers at the moment to making it happen.

It was a great chance think about ideas adults sometimes say are impossible. In the climate emergency we need to embrace ideas which seem unrealistic. How else can we positively shape what ‘reality’ looks like in the future?

Conversations about human rights

The Children’s Parliament highlighted how the climate emergency impacts people’s rights. They pointed out that:

  • Solutions need to be fair – to address the climate emergency without making inequalities worse.
  • We all have the same rights, but we all have different needs. Solutions need to be shaped by everyone, so they can meet everyone’s needs.
  • Climate change and dangerous damage to the environment are social justice and human rights issues. They impact rights to a safe place to live, to secure access to food, to economic and social inclusion, and to shared cultural heritage – as just a few examples!
  • We need an approach to the climate emergency which involves everyone. Everyone should be empowered to take part in their communities and through different structures which work for them to help create the solutions.

It’s an important year for children’s rights, with the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children into Scots Law this year. It’s also the Year of Childhood – and the Children’s Parliament will be hosting an accessible and engaging conversation about rights throughout the year. Everyone will be welcome to join in, however much they know about rights, and it will be a great chance for people of all ages to look at the world through the lens of children’s rights.

Impact Arts and the future Green Economy

Impact Arts spoke about how people who experience poverty or multiple disadvantages in their communities are shaping media and climate responses to inequality. With an artistic slide-show, they showed how stereotypical images and stories dominate in the media – shaping how people imagine inequality. Impact Arts work with people of different generations, creating space for community learning and action on climate change. They showed how communities have been using film, fashion, woodwork and other technologies and materials to address local environmental issues.

They highlighted gaps for many communities in access to spaces to develop skills and solutions for the future Green Economy. A lack of local opportunities to take part in political, arts and technological responses to the climate emergency also shuts people out of jobs, increasing economic inequality. It’s clear communities need local access to the tools to address inter-connected environment issues.

Connecting against climate anxiety

After watching the videos sharing peoples’ reflections and demands for social equality and climate justice, there’s a hopeful energy in the room. The humour, honesty and warmth felt like a timely antidote to climate anxiety – helping us move forward to action, instead of getting overwhelmed by the need for big change!

We’ll be sharing information about the next network meet-up soon. Find out more on the Intergenerational National Network’s webpage, or email to become a member or host a meet-up.