What happens when young people are invited to take action to combat climate change in their school?
In an experimental project organised by NESTA and Enterprise UK, we gave teams of students in a primary school, in a secondary school and in a further education college in Lowestoft, a town in Suffolk, this challenge. Lowestoft has high unemployment but also a burgeoning renewable energy industry which could offer exciting new career opportunities in the future.
The students took responsibility for researching the issues, developing ideas for improving the energy efficiency of their schools and then pitching these to a 'Dragons Den' panel of judges to secure funding to implement them.
From the project we have learnt about how to foster youth-led innovation and the support that young people need to instigate and implement ideas as well as the role that education can play in supporting them to do this.
Students at two schools are now overseeing the installation of wind turbines to generate energy and they are also creating a website for young people and the community to find out about climate change and other environmental issues.