Our final newsletter is here! Six months after the project has ended, find out how our case study partners have been making use of ClairCity outputs and continuing to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies head on.
Author: Corra Boushel
Engaging young people as active citizens and citizen scientists
ClairCity continues to raise awareness of the role of citizens in addressing the climate and ecological emergency, this time turning its attention to young people
The climate emergency and air pollution sit alongside the biodiversity and ecological crises as the most pressing issues of this generation. Inextricably linked to these environmental problems is social justice; poorer and vulnerable people, and those from Black or Ethnic Minorities are already disproportionately affected, while young people will bear the brunt of future climate and biodiversity impacts.
Given the urgency needed to address these issues, we have to find new and replicable ways of engaging diverse citizens and activating young people in democratic processes. Working together across cities and regions, we can ensure decision-making processes are inclusive of both people and planet.
EU Green Week webinar
This month ClairCity will be sharing this message during EU Green Week, drawing from its successes in engaging younger audiences. Together We-Count, the two projects will make the case for shifting our engagements from simply informing to more actively involving and engaging the younger generation. Learn about the processes of both projects, the challenges and opportunities of working with diverse young people, and the takeaway messages for the research and educator community.
ClairCity was a 4-year research project that worked with citizens to refine a model for citizen-inclusive decision making on clean air and climate change. The largest EU project of its kind, 8302 citizens, from six cities and regions, participated directly in local policy making. The project produced an Educator pack of materials to engage young people which will be shared here.
WeCount is a 2-year citizen science project, seeking to empower residents in five European cities to influence decision making. Young people in local communities will be empowered by putting the science in their hands; they will collect data on local traffic, and work together with scientists to analyse results to generate more liveable communities.
Influencing city decision making for a future with clean air
Over the past four years the ClairCity project has been gathering public opinion on the policies they would like to see implemented to improve the quality of the air we breathe. Over 800,000 citizens were engaged in some way, with over 9,000 direct engagements. The project developed mobile games and apps, hosted workshops and webinars, attended public events, ran school lessons and reached out to marginalised communities to involve a representative group as possible in city decision making across six European cities and regions (Amsterdam, The Aveiro Region, Bristol, The Liguria Region, Ljubljana and Sosnowiec).
After citizens preferences were gathered, they were sense checked with policy makers and then modelled to determine whether their ideas could lower carbon emissions and air pollutants faster than business as usual – and overall they did! While citizens often agree with most of the policies already on the table, they ask for greater speed and implementation to reach net zero carbon emissions and pollution levels that meet WHO guidelines.
For their ambitions to be realised, the loop has to be closed between what citizens want and decision making, from local and regional and beyond. Given the set up of the ClairCity project, it was uniquely placed to facilitate this feedback mechanism. Comprised of universities and SMEs, the project already had established connections with local government and lobbying organisations. Thus, following the production of policy reports for each case study, each local/regional team presented the results to these actors.
In Bristol, the team presented their report to the Bristol Climate Change Advisory Committee, appointed by the current government to inform their work in this area, and sent the report to 80 local Councillors and MPs.
In the Aveiro Region, their report was translated into Portuguese and emailed to the Intermunicipal Community of Aveiro region (CIRA) and government representatives. Given the restrictions placed by Lockdown, it was not possible to present in person by the time the report was available.
Similarly, Sosnowiec had their report translated into the local language of Polish and forwarded it to over 30 governmental departments, government representatives and lobbying groups. The Mayor of Sosnowiec then decided to discuss the policy package during the joint meeting of the Mayor and all his deputies. The Chairman of the City Council obliged all members of the Sosnowiec City Council to familiarise themselves with the contents of the Package and in August, the document was discussed in detail by 2 committees of the City Council:
- the Committee for City Development and Environmental Protection
- the Committee on Municipal Economy and Communication
The Chairman has invited members of the ClairCity working team in Sosnowiec to participate in the meetings.
While we may not know exactly what role ClairCity played in influencing local and regional decision making it is clear that the project team have laid seeds in the minds of various influential actors, who are interested to take a closer look at the results and what they mean.
All of the case studies had to rethink their dissemination activities in light of COVID 19 and understandably this has become a priority for decision makers. However, in spite of this, these issues still want to be discussed. Perhaps it is even because of the growing evidence linking air pollution, health impacts and viral risks that these conversations are gaining traction. Either way, for these six cities and regions, there exists policy packages for each of them that can make inroads in addressing multiple interrelated development issues, which are not only ambitious but have the backing of citizens. We hope these packages will continue to be shared and we welcome interest from other cities and regions looking to carry out similar co-creation processes for cleaner air, healthier citizens and equitable outcomes.
Watch our policy webinar to learn more about the policy packages and our co-creation process, and read the policy briefs here.
In conversation with children – how can we all play a part in a better future?
On 20th May Vera Rodrigues, one of ClairCity’s modellers from the University of Aveiro, participated in an initiative organized by the municipality of Oliveira de Azeméis to bring children into the conversation about climate change, and discuss what can be done about it.
The municipality has been proactive in tackling social-ecological issues, with an Adaptation Plan for Climate Change and an Education for Sustainability strategy. Under this framework, they organize an event every year called The Week for the Changing Climate (in Portuguese “Semana pelo Clima (S)Em Alteração”), in partnership with the Department of Environment and Planning of the University of Aveiro. This event aims to raise awareness and inform young people of climate change, its consequences, and the actions we should adopt to adapt and mitigate climate change.
Due to COVID, this year they needed to adapt, with the municipality, together with the high school Escola Soares de Basto, instead opting to organise four webinar sessions. In total 9 classes of approximately 210 students attended the sessions, from years 5 and 6 (9 – 12 year olds).
“My talk was about climate change, with a special focus on our actions to adapt and mitigate climate change,” explains Vera. “The title was inspired by our climate change infographic: A better future is possible – how will you play your part?”
“It was really interesting to notice the enthusiasm of this students! I think they are in a particular stage of their lives, where they are very curious and surprised about the situation. I had a lot of reactions about “is it still possible to control this problem”.“
During the ClairCity project Vera and her colleagues worked with a number of schools in the Aveiro Region to raise awareness of the health impacts of air pollution and climate change, and involve students, in the form of a school’s competition, in clean air and zero carbon decision making. One of the participating schools also attended these webinars, testament to the strong relationships developed throughout our engagement process.
If you are a young person or educator wishing to act on air pollution and climate change then head to our take action page.