Following the inaugural cycle in 2019, this year – after a brief hiatus due to COVID-19 – the Aga Khan Foundation hosted its second illuminate event. Around 40 students between the ages of 15 and 16 attended this year’s event from a variety of schools in London. Illuminate is a new AKF programme that offers aspiring students’ insight into transformational ideas that are shaping the world today and connecting them with international development industry experts.
According to UN figures, today, we have the largest generation of youth in history. illuminate aims to harness young people, broaden horizons, and inspire a new generation of change-makers, to contribute towards a better world. illuminate 2022 examined the effects of the climate crisis, exploring some of its impacts and what we can do to mitigate climate risks to create a safer future for us all.
illuminate 2022 opened with an inspirational video message from youth activist Ernest Gibson, a member of the United Nations Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and Co-Coordinator of 350 Fiji. Ernest discussed his journey to climate activism, why we should all have a vested interest in our planet and ways of getting more involved.
“Think about who are those that we love and that we want to protect, what are the things we love doing, and what’s the value add that we could make to make this world a better place…because with these three things we’re asking all the things we could ever ask a human to do.”
Ernest Gibson – Co-Coordinator, 350 Fiji
This was followed by a keynote session with Dr Steve Smith, Executive Director of Oxford Net Zero and CO2RE. Steve highlighted how everyday practises which we see as commonplace, are having major negative consequences on our planet – exploring what some of these are and how we might be able to amend our behaviours to reduce their effects. Steve also explored the importance that young people play in not only shaping and changing behaviours and attitudes to climate risks, but in also advocating for future changes.
Young people today are agents of change, future entrepreneurs and budding innovators. To actively engage students on the topic at hand, they were invited to take part in a competition with cash prizes. They were tasked with writing a short essay, producing a video blog or creating a piece of art to portray, depict and answer questions on the climate crisis. Through educating the youth on these issues, illuminate encourages young people to accelerate action on climate change.
We are excited to see how students respond and will be announcing the winners at a prize-giving ceremony later this year. Watch this space!