This autumn, Grandparents for Climate organised a tailor-made exhibition for children on climate action and biodiversity in the city library of Genk, Belgium.
Against the backdrop of the UN Climate Change Summit (COP26), thousands of library visitors, attended the exhibition “Saving life on Earth while you still can”.
Designed specifically for children and teachers in primary education, Grandparents for Climate – a citizens’ movement aiming to leave a liveable world for their grandchildren – drew up a timetable of activities and workshops. Evening debates with scientists, policy makers and journalists complemented the program for adults.
With the exhibition, the grandparents want to make young people, their teachers, families and library visitors aware of the climate crisis and offer solutions.
Annelies Nouwen, a 6th grade teacher at the GO! Europe School in Genk, visited the exhibition with her students. “I think it is extremely important that students realise how beautiful and valuable nature is, but also to show them that all that nature is in danger and how that danger is created or maintained.”
The exhibition is part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a campaign which started in June this year and will run until 2030, calling for action to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
“Climate education is becoming increasingly important and this exhibition ‘Saving life on Earth while you still can’ contributes to that,” says grandmother and co-organiser of the exhibition, Liesbet Crough.
Bosses of countries should work better together
At the end of the exhibition, students write down their dreams for the future, which are then placed on the ‘wishes tree’ at the exhibition.
Students from Annelies’ class wished for “more forests and plants in order to take good care of nature together”, “less waste in the forest, and no waste in the seas to protect the animals” or “more solar panels”. Others decided to “walk more often, cycle a lot more and use the car less”.
“A lot of questions arose during the discussions in class afterwards,” according to Annelies. “The children absolutely do not understand why world leaders, the bosses of countries as they call them, continue to allow this. They feel powerless, despite the fact that they really want to contribute themselves.”
One of the students wished that we ” work together better”, something grandparent Liesbet Crough also calls for: “Give your grandchild the best gift by contributing to a liveable and healthy future!”
The exhibition will now move on to the University Colleges Leuven Limburg, where the message is being adapted for university students.
This initiative was established in collaboration with the city of Genk, the Belgian Province of Limburg and the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC), and in association with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) who co-lead the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030).
2022 will be the European Year of Youth, where more bridgebuilding could create opportunities for climate transition.