Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Canada’s National Observer
The federal government is offering $12.5 million for environmental literacy projects aimed at young Canadians as part of its long-term efforts to tackle climate change.
The money will come from the federal Environmental Damages Fund, which redirects the money companies pay from court penalties and settlements to projects that repair environmental damage as well as further education and awareness, among other things.
“Nearly every aspect of a young person’s future will be affected by climate — their jobs, their homes, energy use, transportation, food, water, health, personal security, and more,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault in a press release. He described environmental literacy as “key to understanding and further developing innovative solutions to climate change” and arming Canadians with the “skills and information they need to thrive in a future shaped by climate challenges.”
Eligible projects must focus on either green learning spaces, developing learning materials, improving research on environmental literacy or integrating environmental education into teacher training and professional development, according to the funding announcement.
Applicants could include environmental non-governmental organizations, youth organizations, research institutions, teachers’ associations, and other groups as long as they are a registered charity. A portion of the funding is set aside for Indigenous organizations — such as national or provincial organizations, tribal councils, and communities — which don’t need to be on the list of charities.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is in conversations with “several philanthropic organizations” that have signalled “strong interest” in co-funding projects, which could help the federal government’s $12.5 million go even further, department spokesperson Samuel Lafontaine said in an emailed statement to Canada’s National Observer.
The interested philanthropic organizations have asked not to be named just yet, said Lafontaine. Once ECCC determines which projects are eligible, the philanthropic organizations can choose where to make their contributions, he explained. The names of the organizations will be made public when the projects are announced.
“Overall, the goal is to empower people living in Canada, especially youth, with relevant and accessible information to better understand environmental issues and ultimately translate this knowledge into everyday lifestyle choices,” said Lafontaine. “This information and increasing knowledge about environmental issues will indeed also help tackle misinformation and disinformation.”
The department is accepting applications until Oct. 31.
Climate education is top of mind for a group of senators who are working to connect interested senators with climate experts and briefing materials to improve their knowledge and ability to assess legislation through a climate lens.