18 Austin-area students will support the implementation of City and school-based climate work
December 15, 2021—We are all increasingly experiencing hazards from the climate crisis such as extreme heat and flooding. Youth will be tasked with finding solutions to address these compounding climate hazards while prioritizing justice, resilience, and health. This is why a partnership between local government, school, and nonprofit leaders announced today that the first members of the Austin Youth Climate Equity Council were selected. These 18 young leaders will learn about sustainability and City planning and apply their learning in collaboration with City and community mentors to identify issues, prioritize initiatives, build accountability, and implement climate action on their campuses and within the local community.
The local high school students were selected through a competitive process. Each demonstrates an interest in developing public policy to address climate change, environmental policy, and environmental justice in their community. The Austin Youth Climate Equity Council members are aged 14–18 and represent nine Austin Independent School District schools. The cohort will meet bi-weekly throughout the 2021-22 school year.
“I strongly believe that climate change prevention practices and plans need to start at a local level,” said Jackson, an Austin Youth Climate Equity Council Member. “I wanted to join this council in order to help raise awareness about climate change and its effects in my community.”
The inaugural year of the Austin Youth Climate Equity Council will provide a platform for the students to engage in local climate action efforts and inform the future of our city. In particular, they will support the Austin Independent School District’s sustainability and long-rage planning and the implementation of the City of Austin’s Climate Equity Plan, adopted by Austin City Council in September.
“Youth voices are critical to climate action,” said Lucia Athens, the City of Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “Meaningfully addressing the climate crisis means bringing young people in as part of the process. Their future is at stake, and their voices add urgency to the opportunities for change.”
The Austin Youth Climate Equity Council is led by the national sustainability education nonprofit EcoRise and made possible through the support and partnership of Austin ISD, the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, and the University of Texas’ Planet Texas 2050. Austin-area sustainability professionals can also get involved by applying to mentor Austin Youth Climate Leaders.
“EcoRise is excited to bring this opportunity to youth in Austin this school year,” said Brittany Jayroe, EcoRise Youth Program Director. ”When we put the tools for change in the hands of youth, we will see the benefits unfold over generations. We are looking forward to seeing the changes the first cohort of the Austin Youth Climate Equity Council will set into motion.”
About the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability
Austin’s Office of Sustainability works to ensure a thriving, equitable, and ecologically resilient community by providing leadership, influencing positive action through engagement, and creating measurable benefits for Austin. The Office works to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, a healthy and just local food system, resource-efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability, and a resilient and adaptive city. Find out more at www.austintexas.gov/sustainability.
EcoRise develops the next generation of green leaders by enlivening conventional classrooms with academically aligned K–12 curricula that introduce students to environmental literacy, social innovation, and hands-on design skills. EcoRise is currently supporting over 7,700 teachers in helping more than over 430,000 students solve real-world sustainability challenges concerning energy, water, waste, transportation, air quality, food, and public spaces. The program focuses on enhancing STEM education, promoting civic engagement, introducing students to green careers, and helping students develop 21st-century skills. To learn more about EcoRise, visit www.ecorise.org.