25 May 2023

The influence of Aberdeenshire's children and young people on climate change

More than a thousand pupils across Aberdeenshire influenced the distribution of £41,000 to fund school projects related to climate change and carbon reduction.

27 projects across the region from both primary and secondary schools were ultimately funded through Aberdeenshire Council’s participatory budgeting in schools process.

As part of the process, pupils from primary six and up were supported to have their say in how resources were distributed while learning to take positive action around climate change and carbon reduction.

Supported by their teachers, the pupils both supplied ideas and voted for which projects to take forward in the Participatory Budget process run by the council’s Community Learning & Development team.

The funded projects included learning resources, electric car points, a school weather station, upcycling, textile fashion workshops, making sure recyclables avoid landfill, and support for accessing the outdoors in a way that is clean, safe, and warm.

Some of the projects also covered wildlife and biodiversity, with activities like tree planting, encouraging wildflowers, and learning about carbon capture as well as maintaining a carbon capture green screen.

In terms of sustainability and the food chain, some of the pupils learned about composting, developed productive school gardens, and were encouraged to think about what they do with the produce they grow so that nothing goes to waste.

A survey by Ipsos Mori (2020) shows that 84% of the Scottish public are concerned about climate change and that concern is highest among young people—with 96% of those aged 16-24 being concerned (Youthlink Scotland).

The participatory budgeting in schools project supported young people to be part of Aberdeenshire Council’s Climate Ready Action Plan and forms part of the Council’s commitment to see 1% of its available budget distributed through participatory budgeting.    

Aberdeenshire Council’s Education & Children`s Services Committee Chair, Councillor Gillian Owen, said: “Some of these projects will have legacy benefits with children from primary six also included for the first time this year, they may learn more from what has been done now each year as they progress through their education, seeing their ideas come to life. 

“It’s all about young people learning about climate change, carbon reduction, and feeling empowered to use the resources available to them to take positive action, all with the support of their teachers to take these projects forward.”

Sustainability Committee Chair Councillor Sarah Dickinson said: “I do hope that it will whet the appetite of young people around sustainability and climate change, and I really commend the young people for their efforts and their wisdom in their choice of projects. 

“It was interesting to see the scope, range, and sophistication of some of these projects and the thinking behind them. I really hope that there is legacy, that they continue to take these projects forward as there are some really good foundations that can be built upon.” 

Aberdeenshire Council’s Sustainability Committee was presented with the progress on participatory budgeting in schools in relation to the climate challenge on 17 May 2023.

The project’s process is under review for 2023-24 to ensure even more young people get involved and benefit in future.