Phub Dem | Paro

As part of the United Nations (UN) 50 change-makers roadshow, 40 trainees at the Paro College of Education came up with various projects to address the impact of climate change in their locality.

The students presented projects such as addressing the issue of plastic waste in the college area to the reforestation of the barren area at Sangchoekhor, which was destroyed by a forest fire. Other projects included alternatives to excessive use of firewood across the country, as well as chemical fertilisers.

Kinzang Choden, a final year trainee, said that the teaching communities were well informed about the changing climate and its impact, but they were never taught about its cause. She noted that none realised the reasons for climate change. “If one is responsible, we can bring in change.”

Her team’s project focused on the impact of excessive use of firewood on the changing climate due to carbon emissions and production of greenhouse gases. She said that the group suggested replacing wood with electric heaters, and to engage in reforestation.

Sonam Yangki, a first-year trainee, said that the three-day workshop could change their teaching style, adding that rather than preaching about the change, teachers ought to focus on climate action.

The three-day roadshow, which ended on Monday, aimed to provide a platform to students to empower youth to become environmental change-makers.

The programme was designed for tertiary level students to educate young people on issues related to the environment and climate change and how their voices can be amplified by encouraging them to become environmental change-makers.

Citing the example of Greta Thunberg, team leader Jacqueline van der Woude of UN emphasised the power of ordinary people in advocating for climate change, adding that teaching college students had a broader reach in supporting and calling for climate action.  “Protecting the environment is not a job but a social responsibility.”

PCE’s dean of research, Kezang Sherab (PhD), said that as primary school teacher trainees, the participants had a significant responsibility to teach the values of protecting the environment to the younger generations. “As a teacher, you will meet thousands of students, and if you change the habits of a single student, Bhutan will have scores of environmentalists.”

The United Nations designed the roadshow in Bhutan in collaboration with Global Shapers Thimphu Hub. UN Bhutan organised the UN50 change-makers roadshow earlier this year at the Royal Thimphu College and College of Natural Resources.

The roadshow is part of the year-long activities organised to commemorate Bhutan’s 50th anniversary as a UN member state.