Pathways to Resilience
Today’s youth knows quite a bit about sustainability issues (e.g. climate change, globalization, unequal consumption patterns, species extinction, etc.), as these topics are discussed in school. However, our secondary school system lacks practical skills training, at both the academically-focused and the vocational training ends of the educational spectrum, and concerning both hard skills and soft skills regarding sustainable systems. This feedback has been given to us from teachers and educators and this is why we know a demand for this kind of activity exists.
Young people aged 15-24 were already facing a challenging transition into the labour market before the Covid-19 crisis, and were two to three times more likely than adults to be un- or underemployed.1 Skills development has a key part to play in fostering the resilience of young people ‘building back better’ post-Covid-19, through both hands-on and blended learning to make our offer as inclusive as possible.
Involving teenagers and adults in meaningful sustainability action requires an inspirational space, where they are allowed to be creative, experiment and tinker. That space is the Äerdschëff, an off-grid building that manages its own resources to meet human needs in a resilient and sustainable way: autonomy in water, sanitation, heating, electricity and food. The Äerdschëff is currently being built in Redange/Attert (end of construction late 2021).
To sustain Luxembourg’s lifestyle globally, we'd need between 7 and 9 planets. When we talk about how many planets a country consumes, we are referring to its ‘ecological footprint’2. Our project creates a showcase proving that we can live fulfilling lives taking only our fair share of the only planet that we have. Äerdschëff is a pioneering educational space, filling a gap in the Luxembourgish educational landscape in that it demonstrates and teaches ecological and circular design within planetary boundaries. The educational offer we seek to develop in Pathways to Resilience speaks to the rapidly shifting context within which young people are preparing for and shaping their futures and their livelihoods. These futures include a changing climate with two degrees globally locked in for the next twenty years, geopolitical instabilities associated with the end of cheap and accessible fossil fuels, and global risks such as further pandemics that are emerging due the huge pressure humanity is exerting on the biosphere. Our educational offer is focused on acquiring practical skills for practical circular and low-tech design to address the ecological footprint issue, as well as for effective team cooperation, as the sustainability conundrum is not going to be solved without cooperation.
Our target audience is youth between 15 and 25 years of age. We reach the youth on the one hand through youth groups (formal and non-formal educational contexts, e.g. school classes, Maisons de jeunes, Foyers de jeunes, leisure groups, e.g. scouts) that come and participate in our workshops and camps. On the other hand, our programme is geared towards NEETs, with whom the main challenge is to reach them. Since we do not have the capacity and connection to formal schooling to detect NEETs as they leave school, we cooperate with SNJ who follow up every student that is in a NEET situation. They send interested youngsters to us to stay for 3 to 12 months in the context of a Service volontaire. We have also already cooperated with Youth & Work in the context of the Äerdschëff programme, and we have intentions of continuing this partnership.
We have a unique offer around sustainability and circular design and can adapt our volunteers’ Pathways to Resilience in different ways, depending on the situation, project and skills of each young person. The project is addressing the domain of youth empowerment through education (with particular attention to young people between 15 and 25 who may be in schooling, in leisure groups or in a NEET situation), with a particular focus on sustainability (though science and citizenship do come into the picture, as our programmes are focused on learner action and activation, on hands-on learning, on science experimentation, and on forging one’s way as a citizen in a rapidly changing world). Through hands-on involvement in sustainability solutions, we send young people on a learning journey towards action, self-responsibility and self-reflection. We teach and model resilience autonomy through awareness-raising of the interdependence of all of humanity in the context of our global sustainability challenges. Nature-connection is a very effective way to open up new ways of looking at the world that illuminate the potential for transformative change
1 ILO Policy Brief, Preventing exclusion from the labour market: Tackling the COVID-19 youth employment crisis, https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/documents/publication/wcms_746031.pdf, May 2020
2 a way to measure how fast we consume nature/resources and generate waste compared to how fast nature can absorb this impact and regenerate