The pandemic has shown us that global problems test our ability to act quickly for the sake of our community, city, region, and humanity, leaving no one behind. The challenges that transcend borders (not only geographical ones) show that systems operate at different scales, causing scenarios where collective intelligence is not an option but a necessity. Climate change is an example that requires accelerating learnings by promoting a greater diversity of voices, views, and opinions.
Through the global Climate Promise initiative, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) aims to scale its support for climate action in more than 100 countries. This initiative in Uruguay is carried out by UNDP together with the Ministry of the Environment (MA) and has the financial support of the Government of Sweden. Its objective is to "ensure greater understanding, ownership, and involvement in the climate agenda by society" and, at the same time, contribute to setting more ambitious objectives and commitments at the country level in the year 2022, in what will be the second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
How to achieve more spaces for dialogue and new approaches that integrate more diverse perspectives on climate action? How to generate greater participation towards climate empowerment? These were some of the questions that guided us to contribute from the UNDP Accelerator Lab to the Climate Promise.
When preparing an engagement strategy for climate action and building bridges with public policy, we had the results of the first survey of the social perception of climate change. The report comprised a nationwide study of people over 18 years of age and a qualitative approach for specific sectors of interest. With these elements, we embarked on two pilot initiatives to accelerate learnings:
Tu Mirada Importa, compartila - Climate Promise with Youth
This initiative was conceived to raise the voice of adolescents (between 13 and 18 years old) regarding climate change, inspire them, and express their feelings and ideas to build a better future together.
"Tu Mirada Importa" was the product of a co-design process with UNICEF, the Ministry of the Environment, and a group of young referents and environmental activists. This process also involved training in digital tools and methodologies to facilitate virtual workshops aimed at 12 young activists. Afterward, they were who inspired the adolescents with talks about their projects. Also, they facilitated the dynamics of the virtual event that convened 185 adolescents from more than 150 centers of the country.
As in the survey on perception carried out in adults, climate change was associated with a negative phenomenon and a pessimistic perspective regarding its evolution in Uruguay (54% adults, 52% adolescents). However, 31% of the adolescent public thought that the situation would be better than 14% of the adults surveyed.
Both adults and adolescents linked climate change to environmental issues in general. This was visualized through a more significant association of responsible waste management practices, reuse, and recycling with actions that could contribute to a better evolution of the issue.
In addition, the adolescents put forward proposals for raising awareness and public goods campaigns, demonstrating that it is necessary to continue deepening a greater understanding of climate change, confirming their concern, capacity, and enthusiasm to propose ideas and implement actions to mitigate or adapt to this phenomenon.
As Lucía Cuozzi, UNDP consultant responsible for Climate Promise, highlighted, "Without a doubt, generating more spaces and activities like this one that empowers youth is the starting point to achieve an effective involvement of adolescents and young people in the climate agenda, not only by participating but by building it."
• Access the full report of Tu Mirada Importa here.
Climate Change Research
What if we connect the generation of knowledge with policy-makers? What if we contribute to greater recognition of projects related to climate change, and we also support them for their execution?
For these reasons, we launched "Research for the Climate Action" with the National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII) and the Ministry of Environment. It is a call to support research that seeks to generate a positive impact on the mitigation or adaptation to climate change and the reduction of its effects and early warning. Likewise, it seeks to highlight multi and interdisciplinary projects that integrate the gender dimension in a transversal way and positively impact the territory and its communities. The application will be open until November 19.
Finally, it also seeks to promote greater knowledge of the diversity of research groups, contribute to the exchange and dialogue between the development of knowledge and decision-making in public policy, identify experts, and promote collaboration between disciplines.