The fight against climate change shouldn’t come out of fear but out of love, and taking action against the climate crisis means the narrative needs to change, says a speaker during a panel session at the Youth4Climate conference in Milan.

We need a fierce love for the world, says Green Mangroves co-founder Lina Nayel Al Tarawneh, during a discussion hosted by Qatar Foundation International, during the global youth-driven event. As a medical student, Al Tarawneh said she wants to see medicine and climate change activism work hand-in-hand.

Both medicine and climate change activism are healing practices. If you look around, we are seeing so many diseases, such as heart diseases and cancers, because of our environment, because of the food we eat.

Al Tarawneh was joined by Learning 365 Manager and Head of Gifted Education Cynthia Bolton, Education Above All Youth Advocate Oweis Al Salahi, and Qatar Foundation International Global Education Consultant Jennifer Geist.

Climate change activism

During the session, panellists shared their journeys in climate change activism and how their roles impact and contribute toward this. Explaining the role of educators in the area of climate change activism, Bolton said that the concept of Learning 365 is to give a platform to the youth to extend their ideas out of the classrooms, and reach beyond what the regular curriculum can offer.

We support students to explore areas of the world that previously may not be explored in traditional classroom settings – for example, climbing a mountain. In doing this, we are allowing them to explore sustainability and facets of the environment.

Bolton also showcased a film that highlighted the tower garden initiative at QF schools, where students in the Learning 365 programme attend virtual exchanges with schools in the US, through a partnership with Qatar Foundation International, to understand tower gardens and watch plants grow in front of them in their classrooms.

The purpose of the virtual exchange is to make students understand the universal connection through food, as well as use the exchanges to nurture empathy.

Al Salahi meanwhile, explained what sparked his interest in climate change activism and the teacher who explained that if they are not going to care for our planet, no one else will.

Al Salahi believes that education is the foundation in knowing how to approach issues and educators shouldn’t limit students to certain subjects. Everyone, he said, has a passion and a fire inside them.

And I think governments and policymakers should let the youth have a voice and a seat at the table because eventually, the youth of today are the future of tomorrow. We will be living the consequences of the decisions being made today.

Schools at QF are exposing students to causes at a very young, changing the way they think and act. Al Tarawneh said that while growing up in Qatar, she barely saw any greenery. During a road trip with her family, she was surprised to find vast patches of greenery within bodies of water in Qatar – a spark that ignited her mangroves project.

She said that if we take people outside to experience nature, they realise how beautiful this world is, and they take interest in knowing and loving the world: So, push people to fight climate change with love and not fear. 

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