Young Climate Action for World Heritage: First Workshop in the Wadden Sea

Young Climate Action for World Heritage” is a youth project combining the topics UNESCO World Heritage and climate change with a focus on sustainable action. As one part of the project, students from UNESCO Associated Schools and others from Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands deal with the challenges climate change poses on the Wadden Sea and develop their own projects on the question: How can we take responsibility for the sustainable preservation of the World Heritage Site and for combating climate change locally? In a first workshop, students from Max-Windmüller-Gymnasium (Emden), Heinrich-Hertz-Schule (Hamburg) and Theodor-Storm-Schule (Husum) met at the Hallig island Langeneß from 1 to 4 November 2022. The scenic surroundings, the unique nature and culture as well as the special climatic and environmental conditions of the Hallig provided a thematically appropriate learning environment and allowed room for discovery, creativity and memorable experiences. The unstable weather conditions not only led to necessary changes of the agenda but also inspired fruitful reflections on how weather and climatic conditions shaped and shapes life on the Hallig and stressed the necessity to address the present and future impacts of climate change.

In online sessions with the present students and students from the Simon Vestdijk School Harlingen and the Lindbjergskolen Herning, an input on climate change and World Heritage was provided as a basis for the personal experiences that followed in practical workshops, excursions and thematic impulses provided by the team of the Schutzstation Wattenmeer, Jannes Fröhlich (WWF), Anja Szczensinski (International Wadden Sea School). Mudflat walks, a Hallig excursion as well as interactive games on the Wadden Sea and its unique ecosystem and biodiversity, an amber grinding workshop and a role play on the future of coastal protection inspired the mind and feelings of the students who actively engaged in discussing possible action to enhance and support the sustainable safeguarding of the Wadden Sea in future. Creatively and according to their own interests, they developed various ideas for projects they want to work on during the school year for example to raise awareness on the topic of climate change and the Wadden Sea, such as shooting a short film, designing street art or developing an interactive game with different scenarios for the player to decide on. Building on the results of this first workshop, more student activities will be organized in 2023. The results of the project will be presented in June 2023 and also published in a teaching material on World Heritage and climate change.

The project “Young Climate Action for World Heritage” is organised and implemented by the Institute Heritage Studies and the German Commission for UNESCO and funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt), Wadden Sea World Heritage and others. Students from the UNESCO Associated Schools Network in Germany and its neighbouring countries and other schools are working at six World Heritage Sites for one school year with the aim to design and implement their own projects on climate change and World Heritage.