Cloud Talk: Educating The Next Generation of Eco Heroes
According to Nasa, the year 2020 rivalled 2016 for the title of the warmest year on record, with unprecedented weather extremes on every continent. The world is feeling the effects of climate change more than ever, and it's the younger generations who are arguably more committed to doing something about it.
According to a study by the United Nations, close to half a million youths around the world have taken some form of action on climate change, whether at home, on social media, in school or within their communities.
So, how can we nurture the next generation of environmental champions to create impactful and sustainable change?
During the September 8 edition of our Cloud Talk series, Gen.T spoke with a group of individuals in education and sustainability to find out. The session was organised in partnership with Volvo Car Malaysia.
In his opening remarks, Volvo Car Malaysia's newly minted managing director, Charles Frump, spoke about the brand's plans to be climate neutral by the year 2040. "We have redefined our purpose at Volvo. Safety is what defines us, and there is no greater safety challenge than protecting everyone from the effects of climate change," said Frump. "We aim to be part of the solution by becoming a fully electric car company by 2030."
"I hope our efforts will inspire more people and companies to make significant changes to address the climate crisis we face today," he said.
Following his speech, Gen.T's Southeast Asia editor Chong Seow Wei moderated a panel discussion with four education and sustainability leaders on how more young people are moving to the front lines of the climate change movement.
The speakers included Andrew Chan, the sustainability and climate change leader at PwC’s South East Asian Consulting Services; Alina Amir the co-founder of Arus Academy, which works to integrate the study of climate change into the mainstream academic curriculum; Ko Chuan Zhen the co-founder and group CEO of Plus Xnergy Holding, a clean energy solutions provider and Renard Siew, the climate change advisor for Malaysia's Centre for Governance and Political Studies and an advisor at Knights of Nature, a programme for youths that focuses on incorporating a sustainability mindset.
Here are some of the key points from the discussion.
Skills needed to cultivate an eco-conscious mindset
"Based on my experience working with teachers and students, I would say we need to teach people the importance of empathy,” said Alina. “Observe your surroundings and make a comparison of how you are living and how others are living. Once you can ask the right questions and understand the environment issues of the day, you can better plan on what actions to take.”
She also found that collaboration was another essential skill for people to have, as sustainability work needs everyone to play a role. A fundamental skill that should be taught to all students is project management
Finally, the ability to reflect on one’s actions. Understanding that our actions and inactions have consequences. “I also find that it is helpful having a clear step-by-step process on what needs to be done,” she added.
The role of corporations
“Education on sustainability is important even for board members in a corporation,” said Chan. I’ve spent the last 15 years training many corporate boards on this very topic. I’ve helped them see how sustainability is good for their business, as it reduces risk and opens new business opportunities.”
Adding to this point, Siew agreed, saying that action comes from the top down. “Boards need to understand that they have the power to change the narrative on how their businesses impact the environment, be it positively or negatively,” he said.
Making the clean energy industry relevant
“Back in 2008, the renewable energy industry was not viewed as profitable by many. I remember many of my peers being attracted by the oil and gas industry,” recalled Ko. Watching the documentary An Inconvenient Truth changed his perspective, he said. He was convinced the renewable energy industry will be profitable and play a major role in combating climate change.
“I am a firm believer that we must have a clearly defined purpose in our business. Now that I have children of my own, I want to leave behind a healthy legacy and leave the planet in a better shape for them,” he said.
Read more about our Cloud Talk series or visit our Events page to see what else is happening.