NYA: Talking about climate change

NYA: Talking about climate change

On 8-9 April 2022 the Office of the Ombudsman for children organized a two-day in person session with children, gathering 21 children, age 12-16, from different parts of Croatia. These children are members of the Network of Young Advisors (NYA) to the Ombudsman for Children, the 5th generation, whose mandate started in November 2021. This was their first in-person meeting.

The issues addressed by children and young people at the two-day meeting were:

  • What do we think about when we talk about climate change?
  • How climate change affects our lives and children’s rights?
  • What contributes to the protection of the environment and what poses a threat to the environment.

It is especially valuable that they thought about how they themselves can contribute to the protection of the environment.

Additional impetus for the discussion was given by guest meteorologist Dunja Mazzocco Drvar, director of the Directorate for Climate Activities of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, who held an attractive presentation with plenty of valuable data and information and accompanied by various audio-visual materials, including movie clips from well-known movies and documentaries on this topic. With a critical review of the responsibility of states and society, she gave a series of practical advice on how we can save energy through our own engagement, and contribute to reducing the personal “carbon footprint”, and preserve the environment. Also, six advisors of the Ombudsman for Children participated at the session, who interacted with children and the expert to compile and analyse information on climate change and participation of children.

In the discussion that followed, children made plenty of suggestions and recommendations such as: to enable the sorting of waste in all schools – with the obligation of utilities to regularly take sorted waste to recycling yards; to better organize student transport and public transport in cities; to educate both children and adults about the importance and possibilities of preserving the environment, and especially about the positive aspects of the transition to sustainable energy sources – which should then be both more accessible and cheaper.

They also gave concrete suggestions on how children can personally get involved in environmental decision-making, for example, through children’s city and municipal councils, through the work of associations and participation in specific environmental actions in schools and local communities, but also through informing children about certain sectors, professions and experts in practice, whose activities are related to environmental protection and sustainable development.

Their suggestions and recommendations are at the moment under construction and this will be finalized after the second session to be held in May. In June, NYA members will present their recommendations and discuss them with members of European Network of Young Advisors at a meeting to be held in Bilbao, Portugal.