The Green Box is a global transformation lab nurturing environmental sustainability amongst children & young people through shifts in imaginations, policy, research and action at the local, regional and global levels.
The Box was put together in the year 2017 at the Social Venture Weekend at Cambridge Judge Business School, UK. We wanted to create a social movement to help young people in high youth bulge countries to become environmental citizens and understand the changing dynamics of the world through building better skills mix and contribute towards the sustainable change in their own countries which we all talk about every day.
But it was not an easy thing to aim for! We wanted to reach out to as many young people as possible but we quickly realised we had to test our ideas back home first so for the first year (2018) we focused on our home country- Pakistan. We successfully piloted the Sustainable Impact Partner Program in Pakistan with 30 young social changemakers in 2018. The partners co-created and coordinated community projects for environmental action. All these projects engaged over 200 community members i.e. women, children, teachers etc. We also piloted the ‘Footprint’ curriculum allowing university students to learn about sustainable thinking, project management skills, community action, stakeholders’ engagement, etc. We engaged 1000 young students between the ages of 18 and 29. We got a chance to present the program design and seek support from UNESCO HQ, Paris. We also championed consultations for youth environmental engagement in Pakistan amongst all key stakeholders including UNDP, UNICEF and UN Volunteers, getting recognition as the market leader in Pakistan.
And then came 2019, we were more confident in our work and we decided to go regional. We have been pioneers in steering evidence generation and design of the British Council’s Climate Connections Program. We successfully led South Asia Research on Perceptions of Young People on Climate Change and Action in partnership with British Council in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan during 2020 and 2021. We won Youth Co:Lab and UNDP Asia Pacific fund for developing circular economy fellowships for young women in one of the program’s target countries- Pakistan. We were invited to participate as a key youth-led climate enterpreneurship venture in the Springboard Amplifier Programme 2022 at UNDP Regional Office in the Asia Pacific.
And then came 2020/21, and there was a lot more buzz around youth-focused and led climate action and environmental stewardship with big events like COP26 happening in 2021. We got an opportunity to develop a COP 101 You[th] Pocket Kit in partnership with YOUNGO, Asian Development Bank & UNFCCC. Since then, Green Box is a member of Global Science Diplomacy for the Environment Advisory Committee 2022-2024 UN Environment where we are helping to include climate diplomacy in K12 and university-level curricula across the globe.
2022 and beyond
In 2022 and beyond, we are ever ready to build on the youth momentum for climate resilience and environmental action around the world, and we are focusing on 3 shifts we wish to see by 2050. We have a new home in Cambridge (UK) where we hope to build on the city’s legacy of pioneering leadership and creating world-class changemakers. This will help us achieve our truly global reach to 1.3 million young people by 2050.
If the imagination is to transcend and transform experience it has to question, challenge, to conceive of alternatives, perhaps to the very life you are living at the moment. You have to be free to play around with the notion that day might be night, love might be hate; nothing can be too sacred for the imagination to turn into its opposite or to call experimentally by another name. (Adrienne Rich)
We cannot solve the wicked development challenges around us using the same thinking which created them in the first place. So, we want to provide a maker space for young people at different geographical levels to get their hands messy and co-design and test youth-led experiments for climate action in their communities, policy arenas and global campfires.
Policy and Evidence
All youth-led climate action should be based on the idea that children and youth are valuable as collaborators in generating evidence and as agents for changes in systems and communities, beyond the traditional role of serving as more passive participants in policy, research and programs that seek to affect their wellbeing and future. Providing necessary expertise and leadership differs from the dominant stereotypical views of young people in many communities.
At the Green Box, we hope to foster a culture of youth-led research evidence and policy influence through which young people can develop their skills to communicate with other youth and adult stakeholders, seek opportunities, and guidance for working in groups to achieve goals, and expand of their social networks to build climate resilience.
Young people’s unprecedented mobilisation around the world shows the massive power they possess to hold decision-makers accountable. Their message is clear: the older generation has failed, and it is the young who will pay in full — with their very futures.
Young people are not only victims of climate change. They are also valuable contributors to climate action. They are agents of change, entrepreneurs and innovators. Whether through education, science or technology, young people are scaling up their efforts and using their skills to accelerate climate action.