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New climate change project builds awareness and fights misinformation

Ryerson Leadership Lab receives $1.7 million to engage young Canadians on climate crisis
June 10, 2021
A tree stands in the centre of the earth, with one side charred and barren and the other bursting with life.

A new national project by the Ryerson Leadership Lab will engage 270,000 young Canadians on local climate change initiatives to fight misinformation.

As this year’s Environment Week wraps up, the Ryerson Leadership Lab, external link is launching a national project to engage 270,000 young Canadians on climate change. 

Supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund, external link, the three-year, $1.7 million project will address awareness and misinformation surrounding climate challenges and solutions amongst young Canadians through on-campus and community outreach. 

“Ryerson University has a long-standing record of connecting to the community and combining theory with practice. Through this project, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make climate change a more salient and actionable issue for a large community of young Canadians and for their local communities,” said Mohamed Lachemi, Ryerson’s president and vice-chancellor.

The goal of the project is to build factual awareness around solutions to the challenge of climate change through face-to-face and virtual conversations, online programming and local climate awareness and action projects. It will feature special outreach to suburban and rural regions of Canada that are not as well reached currently by climate change awareness and engagement programs.

In addition to educating and engaging 270,000 students on university and college campuses and in communities across the country, the project will support 4,000 young Canadians in combatting online misinformation by sharing factual climate change posts on social media and in their communities.

“Young adult Canadians are a critical demographic to engage around climate awareness and action. They are generally supportive of action to fight climate change, but many lack the information or the connectedness to each other, to become engaged in climate action. That’s what we’re going to help build with our partners in communities across the country,” said Karim Bardeesy, executive director and co-founder of the Ryerson Leadership Lab.

The project’s mandate also includes training 1,400 young adults to effectively communicate with their peers about climate change, helping them work locally on climate action projects and solutions needed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Further, 50 climate fellows will be hired and trained to engage communities and lead hands-on training on climate science, policy, communications and engagement. 

The climate fellows will be positioned to connect with local institutions that have an interest in climate action and help those organizations gain well-trained, knowledgeable and motivated young people as organizers and project leaders. 

These projects and local leadership will feed into a national delivery strategy coordinated by the Ryerson Leadership Lab and partner organizations.

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