Lithuanian youth activists and schools mark Earth Day with workshops on risk education
In Klaipėda, Lithuania, a group of young climate and ecology activists decided to mark Earth Day by inviting 300 students to develop a disaster prevention and response plan to avoid a climate apocalypse in Lithuania.
With guidance from their teacher, the live action role playing aligned with the four priorities of the regional EFDRR Roadmap 2021 - 2030:
- Understanding and communicating, existing, emerging and future climate risks and disaster risks
- Inclusive and collaborative systems for governance and decision-making
- Supporting investments in resilience
- Preparedness for response and resilient recovery.
The students developed four doomsday scenarios that corresponded with the most common disaster risks in Lithuania - floods, storms, heat waves and extended cold periods. In the introduction, students from grades 8 through 10 learned about the increasing disaster risks in Lithuania, their relation to climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
The class was split into teams of 4-5 people and given “roles” of stakeholder groups, including students, media, politicians, adults, influencers, and scientists. They were tasked to create an inclusive and comprehensive response plan to a catastrophic event, and to explain how their assigned stakeholder group would implement the four EFDRR Roadmap priorities.
The different stakeholder group teams took varying approaches to the exercise. Students, adults, and influencers focused more on preparation from an educational point of view, while scientists and politicians focused on more material solutions, like creating canal systems, fire alert systems and proposing a ban on cigarettes. Some groups collaborated. The media and influencer groups made plans on disseminating more information as fast as possible.
However, not all classes were as passionate about the task, with the student stakeholder group feeling disempowered with their role in disaster risk reduction. Nonetheless, the exercise was very engaging and allowed students to reflect on their role in disaster prevention and to scope their main knowledge gaps on the issue.
The exercise was noted by one of Lithuania’s’ largest media companies, “15 min”, who wrote an article on the lack of ecology education programs in the Lithuanian education system. The journalist came to Klaipėda Varpas gymnasium to document the activities as a case study. Students gave their first interviews, sharing their passion to promote DRR and fight climate change.
It was the third occasion during this school year when a group of 10 students from Varpas gymnasium invited the school community to reflect on DRR and the Sendai Framework. In October 2022, the group launched a school recycling initiative in response to the pollution of the Baltic Sea and its ecological disaster risks. In January 2023, the gymnasium invited 8th grade students from neighboring schools to become city planners and build resilient communities in line with the SDG11. The group meets regularly to reflect and troubleshoot their ongoing initiatives and find ways to further scale up their work and reach more students and their parents.