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To coincide with Earth Day (22 April), we curated an Our Earth environmental programme of films and resources on Into Film+, which explores key topics around climate change and sustainability for both primary and secondary students.
A highlight of the programme is the short documentary, Eve, which follows a nine-year-old girl as she returns to mainstream schooling after being part of an off-grid community and grapples with how other students will respond to her passion for the environment. On Into Film+, the short film also comes with a fascinating introduction from Oxfam Youth Campaigner, John McLaverty, who discusses how young people can create the best possible climate speech and effectively get their message out.
So that you can explore this subject as widely as possible with your pupils, Oxfam have written an accompanying article that delves further into both youth climate campaigners and climate action in the global south and Malawi specifically. John provides a brief introduction before handing over to Juliet Suliwa Kasito who works in Malawi to help communities cope with the impacts of climate change. She presents the story of two brilliant youth activists, Jessy and Isaac, before discussing her thoughts on COP26 and what we can be doing to help in the UK.
The climate crisis is not something for the future. It's happening now and is impacting all of us. Unfortunately, people living in poverty are the least able to cope with the impacts of the climate crisis and women and girls are often the hardest hit. Historically, wealthy countries are responsible for 79% of emissions (from 1850-2013) and it is heart-breaking that despite low carbon emissions from the global south, it faces more frequent extreme weather events, flooding and droughts, and devastating impacts on people's lives.
Specifically in Malawi, nearly 2.6 million need urgent food assistance from October to March every year according to Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee. Such figures have become a perennial tragedy, with the rainy season starting as late as December instead of October.
Youth climate activist, Jessy, knows how unpredictable rainfall pattern and falling crop yields force children - especially teen girls - to quit school and marry to escape hunger and poverty. In 2017, Jessy stayed out of school for three months because her parents could not pay her school fees. Both Jessy and Isaac attended the climate rally founded by Greta Thunberg and told thousands of people how climate change is frustrating the global push to end hunger and poverty as well as keep every child in school.
Check out Jessy and Isaac's own accounts below, as well as a video of them at the London climate rally:
Jessy: "I know Greta (Thunberg) and Vanesa (Nakate). When I went to London, I heard her voice and realised that even young people are taking part in tackling climate change. This gives me the courage and knowledge of how to fight for climate justice in Malawi also. I want many young Malawians to take part in the movement. I want to continue campaigning for climate action because I am thinking about generations to come. I want to fight for them to have a better place and a better place. I realize that the good thing I want, someone else is also looking for it. It's a good thing to fight for them to have a good thing as well."
Isaac: "In the UK, they are also experiencing effects of change, but countries such as mine are hit hard by droughts, flooding and changes in rainfall pattern, though their emissions remain lower than those from developed countries that use coal to power their industries. The loss of trees have left Malawi with scanty vegetation to stop soil erosion from burying rivers in silt, leading to persistent blackouts as well as flooding. I feel bad about floods in Karonga and the people who lose homes flee to schools and disrupt learning. Floods also fuel diseases such as cholera and malaria."
My country is already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change. And my message to governments attending the summit was clear. The summit was a real opportunity for world leaders to make the climate commitments needed, to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and to provide the funding needed to support those on the frontlines of the crisis.
I left Glasgow feeling frustrated by world leaders although I welcomed the solidarity shown by the Scottish Government on Loss & Damage. I was inspired by Sabrina and Idris Elba's talk on how climate change has affected food systems, hitting local farmers in low-income countries like mine the hardest. It was striking to see the shared language and experience of the climate crisis by farmers in Malawi and Scotland.
The UK Government holds the Presidency of the UN Climate Negotiations for 2022. It is essential for countries like Malawi that they lead by example and use this power to make other governments strengthen their 2030 emission reduction targets. They must follow through on their commitments.
As UK residents, you can demand action now to prevent catastrophic climate change. Call on people in power, from the Prime Minister to business leaders, and keep talking about reducing emissions, phasing out coal, and supporting the communities whose food, jobs and homes are devastated by extreme weather.
Change begins with us putting pressure on the people who serve us in government. Send a message to your MP today, calling for the UK Government to work urgently as COP president. Get started by heading to Oxfam's climate justice resources and the MP action for schools.
Head over to the Our Earth article to watch Eve and John's introduction as well as the rest of the curated environmental programme. You can also explore how film can engage learners in important conversations about sustainability and empower them to amplify their voices on what matters to them most through filmmaking in our new online course, Sustainability Through Film.
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