Students at The International School of Cape Town have joined with more than 1 000,000 youth to take action for the environment by studying and finding solutions to the climate change crisis.

This October, more than 1 000,000  youth ages 5-22 are coming together virtually to interact as climate change activists in a free, interactive, innovation project called the Climate Action Project. The project will take place over six weeks from 28 September – 8 November 2020.

Rene Fahrenfort and her Year 6 students decided to join the project as they believe that “the baton needs to be handed to children who are the earth’s goal keepers and custodians of our planet”. The class is spending a weekend in October on Robben Island to collect samples of pollution on the Robben Island shoreline.  This will be done in an endeavour to take action on mitigating climate change through waste management.

In its fourth year, the project has gained support from world leaders and global experts with endorsements from HH the Dalai Lama, Dr. Jane Goodall, Austria President Van der Bellen, Ireland President Michael Higgins, and Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai. Any student, anywhere on the planet is invited to be a part of the project created by the education non-profit Take Action Global in collaboration with WWF International, NASA, and the United Nations. The project is further endorsed by the European Commission and Ministries of Education and Environment from 15 countries, including Canada, South Africa, the Philippines, Belgium, Croatia, Venezuela and Argentina. By working with governments and leading agencies and organizations, the project is designed to bring about change at levels of nations with aims for mandated climate education and bans of single use plastics.

The project designers – a global team of hundreds of volunteer educators–are committed to providing students with access to action despite challenges of COVID-19, reliable wireless connection, and inequities in regard to technology and resources. As part of the project, teachers receive high-quality professional development offered by world-renowned education leaders, and all classrooms have access to the complete curriculum which is co-authored by WWF and translated in over 10 languages.

Over the course of the six weeks, students will work to develop their own solutions to climate change after building foundational knowledge, considering bias and scientific evidence, establishing trusted sources, and creating personal connections with the work of environmental justice.

Classrooms will expand perspectives of the climate crisis beyond the walls of schools through intergenerational interviews and in class-to-class virtual exchange experiences working with other youth who may look and live differently from them. Students will progress through hands-on learning experiences to gain understandings of causes, effects, and solutions as both global collaborators and also knowledge constructors. The project is designed to inspire questions as opposed to simply providing answers. Students will design, invent, campaign, and share their stories with the world through use of technology and creative expression of ideas.

The Climate Action Project will conclude with a week of action and Climate Action Day, a global online celebration of learning to be held on November 5, 2020. During the online event, classrooms will join to hear from presenters, including primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, Princess Esmerelda of Belgium, explorer Céline Cousteau, NASA Head of Mars Mission Dr. Rick Davis, and experts from WWF, UN, and UNEP. Participating students will also have the opportunity to apply to join as speakers to share their solutions with the world.

Teachers are invited to join the Climate Action Project and registration is open for all on the Climate Action Project website.

South African Ambassador: Rene Fahrenfort

WhatsApp: +27 (0)79 512 6772
Global Lead: Koen Timmers, Lead Climate Action Project,
Whatsapp: +32 486 87 40 05

Related resources:

Comments in support:

“Climate Change is real. All around the world where the patterns are changing and affecting people, animals and the environment. To tackle this growing crisis we have to take action. We have to change mindsets.” Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

“Education is key to changing students’ behavior and societies’ mindset. For this we need to understand that students can do so much more than memorizing facts about climate and environment. They have the capacity to solve real-world solutions and take action for a better world.” Koen Timmers, Founder Climate Action Project

 “This new generation is moving forward in climate action pursuits and impacting international dialogue on societal issues and policy. Through the use of networks and compelling messages of solidarity and resilience, these young activists are taking causes beyond the classroom to social media, city streets, and the steps of government buildings. As citizens of the world, they are demonstrating that an individual person can make a positive impact on climate and the environment. They are mighty and fearless and serve as voices of hope–and, the whole world is watching them.” Dr. Jennifer Williams, Co-founder Take Action Global, Climate Action Project author

 “Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge that the world has ever faced, but we can take active steps. Whatever happens in the next decade, the future is going to look very different, and it is essential that young people are prepared for that future, and given the opportunity to shape the world that they will inherit. This includes understanding how we must work with nature if we want to achieve a healthy and sustainable world.” Cecily Yip, Global Education Coordinator, WWF

“When it comes to climate change, young people are using their creativity and doing things for the common good. They are taking matters into their own hands to protect people, the planet, and their future.” Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director Greenpeace International

“Youth are not only future leaders, they are the hope of today. With their thoughtful and targeted actions, they are greatly impacting the change on this planet we call home.” Céline Cousteau, filmmaker and explorer

Key points:

  • Planting of over 1,000,000 trees
  • Live interactions with NASA astronauts to understand lessons of climate from learnings from Mars
  • Messages to Mars
  • COVID-19 proof learning: flexible options for teachers, including face-to-face learning experiences and distance learning options
  • Open source lessons: create vertical gardens from trask, build solar lights with water bottles, make bioplastics from milk and vinegar
  • Curriculum co-authored and endorsed by WWF

Innovations and inventions created by past Climate Action Project classrooms:

  • Students in Malawi created a program to plant 60 million trees (with presidential support)
  • Irish students brought national change with the green dots after visiting the Minister of Environment
  • American students developed a solar suitcase which now offers free electricity to a Kenyan school
  • Canadian students 3D-printed coral reefs and made edible water bubbles
  • Indian and Argentinian students developed their own bioplastics and created water bubbles
  • Nigerian students created small biogas plants which they brought to their communities
  • Indonesian students developed eco-bricks

Project endorsements from public figures:

Further endorsements are available on the Climate Action Project website

Why I decided to participate:

It was Nelson Mandela who said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ At the time he was talking about changing the world by changing actions and attitudes. Education certainly minimises ignorance and helps to open closed mind. Currently the world is faced with the threat of climate change which will affect every aspect of how we continue to exist. Unless we take action, make informed choices and are deliberate in our interactions with the built, social and natural environment, we are headed for disaster. My decision to participate in the Climate Action Project is based on a very personal experience of appreciating the importance of good health and vitality through my having overcome colon cancer.

Unless we take care of the earth – that is everything from the way we manage waste, to being aware of what we eat, watching our individual carbon footprints and caring for the smallest creatures like bees, many more people are going to have to wage a battle against disease.

The second reason that I decided to participate is that as a teacher I am committed to empowering each of the children that I teach with knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals. The CAP fits directly into these goals and it spans the entire curriculum. I believe that I can mobilise children as well as teachers to get involved in climate ACTION and not just pay lip service to the theory behind climate change.

I was able to contribute to a global curriculum that is endorsed by the World Wildlife Foundation and I am also helping to co-ordinate the programme in South Africa.


Why I believe CAP is important:

This project is important because it has people at its centre. The absolute power of this project lies in its intercultural connections. These are connections on a global scale. Teachers around the world have come together to share our knowledge of teaching and learning, our love for the profession and share our ideas around climate change with each other. This resource – the global curriculum – is now being shared with the entire world. Furthermore, we are partnered with and supported by WWF, NASA and the UN.

Through the Climate Action Project teachers have the opportunity to network with likeminded professionals all around the world while each of us makes a difference through ACTION in our part of the world.

Another reason this Climate Action Project is important is that it is at the cutting edge of teaching in terms of the methods being current, well researched and appropriate to the learners’ contexts and realms of experience. The project enables students to come up with solutions rather than them memorising facts and then retrieving that info in an assessment. Excellent pedagogy underpins all interactions with young people and you really feel as though the whole world is supporting you. Teachers (like most other professions) need to be part of a broader community and we need to support each other. The Climate Action Project affords us that opportunity. I, in turn, would like to extend the opportunity to operate in a global arena to as many colleagues as possible.

My long term goal:

Is to work with teachers to bring about a curriculum that is relevant, effective and fun. Too many teachers and children ‘go through the motions’ because they have to jump through hoops and engage in meaningless activities that administrators have decided supersede children’s learning.

I would like to equip young people with the skills to think critically, to read critically and to question the answers rather than spend 12 years merely answering questions. In order for them to achieve this, they need well trained teachers who are lifelong learners and a curriculum that makes learning irresistible.

I would like to draw on my extensive network to contribute in a meaningful way to primary education. I deliberately steer clear of the term ‘basic’ education, as there is nothing basic about what we do in the primary school. I am effective at connecting people and I share skills and resources very readily. I would now like to extend my reach of connecting people from local to national to international.


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