Davos Codes: Connecting Students’ Passion for Their Planet with Technology
Climate anxiety is seriously affecting our youth: In a recent global survey of 10,000 young people aged 16–25, 59% were very or extremely worried about climate change, and 83% said they think people have failed to take care of the planet. But while they are rightfully worried and upset about the state of our planet, they are also rising to the challenge, getting passionate about sustainable change, and becoming changemakers for their futures.
To meet the growing demand for environmental education and technology use in the context of sustainability, our Davos Codes programme established a Climate Action Lab at Davos Middle School in 2020 and expanded it globally just one year later with additional Climate Action Labs in Bangalore, Tokyo, and San Francisco. The goal? To give students the tools and skills to create a brighter future for themselves and empower them to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As the students learn more about the SDGs, they learn more about their community and the impact of sustainability on it.
Created in 2015, the SDGs are the global blueprint on how to achieve a sustainable future for all, creating opportunities for every one of us to improve the state of the world. With Davos Codes, we wanted to create a program that didn’t just educate students and their communities about the goals, but really demonstrated how they could personally commit to them. The Climate Action Labs were developed to support this awareness and passion for the SDGs and the environment.
Through a range of projects that combine science and technology, such as monitoring air and water quality and local wildlife, students develop a wealth of skills applicable to their futures—from learning to own and take responsibility for an entire project to discovering the impact of data analysis and sharing at local and global levels.
“In the future, we will make full use of social networking services to spread the data and findings of our Climate Action Lab activity. We believe it will make local residents interested in the local environment.”
– Student participating in the Tokyo Climate Action Lab
Ultimately, the knowledge students gain will positively affect their lifestyle choices and change the way an entire generation thinks about sustainability and its impact on their local and global communities. Based on their analysis of collected air quality data, the students participating in the Climate Action Lab in Davos made a presentation to the local government outlining the severe impact of annual private fireworks on New Year’s Eve. This data supported a new law, enacted in 2020, to prohibit private fireworks in order to protect air and water from toxic chemicals and wildlife from distressingly loud noise levels.
Creating Lasting Change
As the students learn more about the SDGs, they also learn more about their community and the impact of sustainability on it. They have become increasingly passionate and created change that we never dreamt of when we started Davos Codes seven years ago. This hasn’t just been a one-off classroom project—it’s something that the students took to heart and want to move forward, because they see the role they have to play in improving the state of the world.
The alumni group that was established from the Climate Action Lab in San Francisco is a great example: All of the students that participated in the inaugural air quality project graduated last year, but six of the 12 participants were so passionate about the program that they continue to work on the current project to monitor local waterways with an AMOS unit. “I’m constantly amazed by how devoted the students are to this project,” says programme facilitator Su Adams. “The system arrived completely smashed to pieces in transit, so they’ve been working to fix it since they’ve got it. But the skills that they’ve learned from this kind of problem-solving are incredible, and their tenacity is so admirable.”
The situation for the Climate Action Lab in Bangalore was quite different: Although the school had an environmental ethos, they had never used technology to collect or analyse data. “These students gained all sorts of skills in using computers in general, visualising data, using technical equipment, as well as developing presentation skills,” says Adams. The students in Tokyo, on the other hand, valued the opportunity to interact with the other Climate Action Labs and practice their English skills through Live Lab Link Ups, and teamwork has been the most important aspect of their activities.
“We would like to start a newsletter sharing our Climate Action Lab findings with other school students in the area. Our bigger goal is to create a campaign on water pollution and plastics pollution. By creating awareness we would like to bring about a change in our area.”
-Student participating in the Bangalore Climate Action Lab
This year’s Awareness to Action project, which is being rolled out in all involved schools, guides students toward a deeper understanding of natural disasters and their implications through exploration of the science and data behind local climate phenomena using seismic sensors and AMOS units. The students will share their findings and insights with partner schools as they continue to harness the power of innovation, technology, and education to make a difference and create impact in the community—successfully sharing knowledge for action.
On the Road to 2030 and Beyond
The global goals can only be achieved if everybody in the world gets behind them, and the most important part is to get youth on board. We need to create sustainable change, not just for right now but for the future—and that’s where every young person in the world comes in. If we can ensure that everyone is educated and has an opportunity to understand the goals, contribute, and assess their own impact, then we stand a chance of achieving the 2030 agenda.
Most importantly, let’s not forget: 2030 isn’t the end point. After 2030, there will be another round of sustainable development goals, and the people that will drive, write, and implement those goals are today’s youth. So let’s start now. Because if we don’t, we will never achieve those incredible visions of eradicating poverty, creating a sustainable planet that we can all share, and ensuring that future generations don’t see the same issues around our planet as we are seeing today.
About the Author
Vice President of Global Strategic Relations, Salesforce.org
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