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Empowering Young Voices Globally in the Fight for Climate Justice

By Charlotte Kirby | January 20, 2022 | , , , | Education, Nonprofit

In recent years, the global youth climate action movement has risen up to demand that world leaders listen to science and mandate climate and environmental education. As a result, educators have an important opportunity to harness and facilitate this passion by connecting students to the global citizen science community. Yet, often they do not know where to turn. Davos Codes, a year-round Salesforce program created to bring education, knowledge, and opportunity to students in Davos and give them a chance to take part in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) programming, has been created to help bridge this gap.

Founded in 2015 by Salesforce.org in collaboration with Davos Middle School, Davos Codes believes the voices of the youth need to be front and center in the fight for climate justice. The program brings climate and environmental education to middle school students through a series of STEM classes and workshops that promote the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while leveraging our long-standing relationship with the WEF. Students have the chance to present the workshops’ findings to the global citizen science community and take part in the WEF’s programming.

A few weeks ago it was announced that due to the rise of COVID-19 cases and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the World Economic Forum 2022 — set to take place in Davos, Switzerland in January — will be held virtually. Despite the event being virtual, Davos Codes is going ahead as planned. Our commitment to the community and students of Davos, to climate action education, and to driving the conversation around stakeholder economy globally is stronger than ever.

Students discussing in front of computers.
Davos Codes at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland in 2019.

According to the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer, business is the most trusted institution in 18 countries, and the only institution to be seen both as competent and ethical. Businesses cannot remain offstage, with 68% respondents declaring CEOs should step in when the government does not fix societal problems, and must lead with action on issues like sustainability. After almost two years since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the public is more distrustful and fearful than ever, with climate change being the second biggest fear for respondents.

As economic players, it’s imperative for businesses to navigate this apparent contradiction (of low trust and high expectations) by building a stakeholder economy and encouraging a long-term orientation. Salesforce has a proud history of supporting the communities in which we live and work — and Davos, by extension of our commitment to the WEF, has become one of these communities.

STEM Classes Leading to Tangible Action

In the past five years, the Davos Codes program has seen students involved in a variety of projects, including learning to code, using VR technology to design spaces to provide shelter and education for young displaced people, air quality monitoring, and learning about the global impact of plastics.

In 2020, a Climate Action Lab was established at Davos Middle School as a permanent place for students to learn technology in the context of sustainability. The year 2021 was a pivotal one for the program: While the world was temporarily stopping due to extended lockdowns, Davos Codes scaled globally. Middle school students from Bangalore, Tokyo, and San Francisco joined the program and took part in Climate Action Labs, mutually sharing their findings. Having started in Davos with 15 students, the program now counts 80 students across three continents.

Key achievements over the years include students successfully encouraging technology education and campaigning to the town of Davos to advance sustainable initiatives. Among the sustainable initiatives adopted were a ban of fireworks and the creation of a plastic recycling program through a campaign which included a business sponsorship, community outreach, and a press stunt, and resulted in 420 bags of plastic deposited over three days.

Beyond leveraging science for environmental education, the aim of Davos Codes has always been to empower young people to use their voice to tell their stories and give them a platform to campaign for a more sustainable future, supporting the generation of an environmental awareness and campaign group.

Students standing under a Davis Codes banner and waving.
Davos Codes gives young students a platform to campaign for a more sustainable future.

Through a range of projects that combine science and technology, students develop a wealth of skills applicable to their futures — from learning to own and take responsibility for a project from A to Z, to discovering the impact of data analysis and sharing at local and global levels. Ultimately, the knowledge gained will positively affect lifestyle choices and change the way an entire generation thinks about sustainability and its impact on the local and global community.

This year’s Awareness to Action project, which is being rolled out in all schools involved, guides students towards a deeper understanding of natural disasters and their implications through the exploration of the science and data behind local climate phenomena using seismic sensors. Students will share findings and insights with partner schools as they continue to harness the power of innovation, technology, and education to make a difference and to continue creating impact in the community.

Want to learn more about the unequal effects of climate change? Check out our third Impact Labs cohort, which will focus on climate justice.



Charlotte Kirby
Vice President of Global Strategic Relations, Salesforce.org
 
Charlotte is responsible for building formal strategic partnerships, international collaborations and strong strategic relations to holistically support Salesforce values and that the business of business is improving the state of the world. She is passionate about the opportunity of the Stakeholder Economy and harnessing the power of business to create impact in solving some of the major societal challenges of our time.