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Youth climate partnership makes an impact in Nelson

The City of Nelson’s climate and energy team has partnered with the West Kootenay Youth Climate Corps to advance specific goals from the city’s climate action plan.

“Essentially what we are trying to do is build capacity within our local youth to understand what the climate problems are and how they can integrate themselves into building solutions,” says Mel Lavery, coordinator for the Youth Climate Corps. 

According to research conducted in the region by Caitlyn Taburiaux and supported by Laura Sacks and the West Kootenay Climate Hub, 78 per cent of youth in the West Kootenay from a sample of 100 students from Selkirk College are very, or extremely worried that climate change threatens people and the planet, and 74 per cent believe “governments are failing young people around the world.”

“We have been working in four main project areas to give youth mentorship and hands-on skills,” says Lavery. “In the West Kootenay we are focusing on wildfire risk reduction, ecosystem restoration, food security and energy efficiency.”

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The Youth Climate Corps is in the planning stages of generating awareness through partnerships, says Lavery. “We just want to let young people know there are programs out there that they can join to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Part of the initiative is holding the government accountable to take action on climate change, and involve youth in climate decision-making and implementation, Lavery says

“We really see youth as the agents of change,” says Cecilia Jaques, climate and energy advisory for the City of Nelson. “For us it is really important, for us, to have those conversations and really engage them so they understand what climate solutions are available.”

According to both Jaques and Lavery there has already been a huge impact on the community through increased awareness by generating 100 hours of engagement around climate change, and over 200 “meaningful” conversations. 

Anyone interested in learning more about Wildsight or the Youth Climate Corps can email Melissa Lavery or connect through the website. For more information on the Nelson Next Climate plan head over to the city’s website.

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