2020 has been a challenging year for people all around the world. Through all of the challenges that we have faced this year, it could be said that humans across the world have never been more united. This year has given us an opportunity to think about working together on global issues, and the things that we want to change. There has been an increased focus on tackling climate change in particular and how to make the Earth a more sustainable place to live for future generations.
This fits in with CISV’s Educational Content Area for 2020, Sustainable Development, and gave us an opportunity to ask CISVers around the world what they think and do about sustainability. We asked CISVers to complete a survey created by SEEd, (Sustainability and Environmental Education) to provide us with their views on sustainability. Thank you to those who participated!
It is important to note to that 33 people completed the survey. They fit into the following age groups: 20-30 (x13), 31-40 (x8), 41-50 (x1), 51-60 (x10) and 61-70: 1 (x1)
There were no children that completed the survey, so these views represent adults only.
It is clear that the results do not reflect a very positive perception of the way that humans are dealing with sustainability and climate change on our planet. When asked for one word to describe climate change, examples include ‘anxious,’ ‘outraged’ and ‘devastated.’ When given options to pick from in order to finish the following sentence: ‘Do you, as a society, feel that we…’ the most popular answers were ‘Mindlessly consume an excess of products,’ and ‘Use Earth’s resources recklessly.’ From these responses, it seems that several participants feel that the negative effects of climate change are due to humans not living sustainably, or not having the knowledge of what they can do to tackle this themselves.
Despite there being a less positive outlook towards sustainability, there were positive responses from respondents who want to help us move towards living more sustainably. When asked what we can do to reverse the impact of climate change, responses included: ‘use less plastic,’ ‘use more public transport,’ ‘eat more plant based foods.’
In the survey, many respondents say that they were not taught about living sustainably and climate change when they were in school, with only a small percentage saying that they learned about this in geography or science class or on a school trip. The majority has learned through friends, social media or through their own research later on in their lives. This could be because climate change wasn’t deemed as critical as it is now. It would be interesting to know if this has now changed and if children are more knowledgeable now about the impact that they can have on the planet. We know that behaviour is often learned from a young age, and if children are now being educated in schools and by parents, perceptions now could be a lot more positive.
It is clear that children today are growing up in a very different world from just 20 years ago. Maybe this has been made even more evident over the course of 2020. As this survey was not completed by any CISV children, it would be interesting to know what living sustainably means to them. What can CISV do to make sure that we – as active global citizens – are living as sustainably as we can? What can we do in our Chapter and in our programmes to ensure that children grow up understanding the importance of this on our planet?