On 11 – 13 October 2021, the Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit (YEESS), a new initiative from the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Inspire educational team at UWE Bristol, gave young people a voice to mitigate the impact climate change has on their futures.
KS4 and KS5 pupils across the West were challenged to critically evaluate the feasibility of carbon emission reduction strategies to achieve Net Zero 2030. Each day of the summit, the students were encouraged to use design thinking strategies to address a different aspect of sustainability and engage with local engineers and politicians through live online discussions.
The online chats, hosted by the “I’m an Engineer” outreach team, included Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees on 11 October, and Councillor Toby Savage from South Gloucestershire Council and Councillor Sarah Warren from Bath & North East Somerset Council on 12 October.
On 13 October, West of England Mayor Dan Norris, joined Year 10 students from Orchard School, Bristol at We The Curious for a live broadcast Q&A. Dan Norris said:
“When it comes to the climate emergency, young people are well ahead of politicians. They understand the need for urgent action. They are clear-thinking and straight-talking. And they have creative ideas about how we can move quickly to meet our ambitious net zero targets.
“Our region is home to so much innovative technology, with brilliant scientists, researchers and engineers working to meet the urgent challenges we all face.
“As they move into further study and into employment these young people will become valued additions to our huge West of England pool of talent, helping shape solutions.”
YEESS delegates directly asked Mr Norris probing questions - “How do you plan on causing the public to actually change their habits – do you think it will succeed?” Eloise from Orchard School addressed a concern many children expressed during the summit.
Mr Norris agreed that to make changes in emissions, everyone has to work together and spread the word about the impact our habits are having on the planet, and that his job was to make the “best” low carbon options easier for the public to take hold of. Like cheaper, faster buses.
Discussions from the summit will be communicated to policymakers in the West of England and the UWE Bristol DETI Inspire team will showcase outcomes to international audiences at COP26 in November.
YEESS delegates were assessing three core targets (and the suggested solutions) mapped into the Bristol and West of England action plans:
- How might we take 40% of traffic off our roads by 2030?
- How might we heat our homes without fossil fuels by 2030?
- How might we reduce our waste by 65% by 2030?
For each target, students investigated the issue, imagined solutions framed by experts and then refined those ideas through online discussions before the daily Q&As with politicians.
The full programme of events can be found at https://yeess.imanengineer.org.uk/.
Legacy Materials from YEESS will also be available on the DETI Inspire resource hub for KS3, 4 and 5.