Youth combating climate change


Climate-Change-championsYoung people must be the centre of activities to combat climate change because their generation will have to face a worse fate in future. That is why British Council initiated their International Climate Champions Programme engaging young people around the world as communicators who can influence their peers and the general public on the urgency of climate change. And the 2009 International Climate Champions (ICC) for Sri Lanka, vows to fight against the climate change in their own capacity.

British Council helps this enthusiastic group of young people to develop and implement projects within their local communities. The Sri Lankan champions for 2009 – selected from a group of talented youth have already got the chance to participate in a few international workshops. “The chances we got to network with other like-minded youth were simply awesome,” commented Ashrifa Ali – a Sri Lankan climate champion who will be assembling a Green Army under the theme “Let’s unite to combat climate change.” Ashrifa is a Biotechnology Student at the Spectrum Institute of Science and Technology. Her Green Army is now concentrating on taking the message of Climate change to the students, the corporate and the public at large.

Karen Sadanandan – the youngest climate champion who had recently completed her A/Levels initiated an Eco-friendly Society in her school Stafford International. A plastic bottle recycling project in the school was already organized by Karen and colleagues successfully. She is now working toward establishing a green area in the school and a poster campaign together with her fellow Climate Champ Ashrifa. “The Climate Champion programme gave us a framework to work toward a common goal,” said Karen who is enthusiastic to do whatever they can to delay climate change.

Rochelle Van Dort is a management student at the National Institute of Business Management. She was the overall winner of the International climate Champions Competition 2009. Her project in this regard is the “Grow a Green Barrier Campaign” involving school children and youth to plant a mangrove belt in Negombo area. Her project raises awareness among the students and local community on the importance of mangrove and their role in battling climate change through seminars and field visits to mangrove swamps.

Taamara de Silva’s project idea is to have a tree re-planting programme focusing on establishing a strong foundation to promote the concept of climate change among the youth of Sri Lanka. He aims at establishing a monitoring system to ensure the sustainability, which is a drawback in most of current tree-planting programs. Taamara hopes to integrate the project into the school curriculum in view of creating a nationwide impact of potential significance.

Navoda Mihiraj is a first year student of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna. His ICC project – a small scale reforestation programme in schools in Galle won the runner-up prize for the ‘best champion project plan’ competition on the International Climate Champions.

“British Council is impressed with Sri Lankan Climate Champions” said Gill Westaway – the Country Director of British Council Sri Lanka. She said the enthusiasm shown by Sri Lankan youth is encouraging as it is important to act against climate change now without a delay. British Council’s International Climate Champions programme is now expanded to sixty countries across the globe. During 2009, British Council recruited over 1,300 as International Climate Champions. British Council will provide support and training to help these young Sri Lankans to sharpen their skills and to take their climate change projects into education institutions, their communities and regions.

If you are a youth passionate on environment and issues who would like to be an International Climate Champion for 2010, please contact the programme coordinator Thushara Gunasekera for more information on 4521583 or

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