Innovate ELT promises to be its usual… well, innovative self this year, with a fresh, timely and topical theme of sustainability in all its forms, experiments in Zoom interactivity to recreate the friendliness and intimacy of the conference when it’s at Oxford House, Barcelona, and a diversity of session topics not often seen at conferences of a similar size.
Another innovation is where the conference fees go to. This year, 50% of your money – €10 – is going to Plan International.
When ELT Footprint was tasked with suggesting a charity or charities to back we put it to our members on Facebook. We asked members to think about impact, global scope (bearing in mind that delegates to this year’s online conference are coming from around the world), and of course to mention charities that are close to their hearts. Areas included: wildlife conservation, sustainability education, political or legal action. A large number of organisations were bigged up by their fans, ranging from high profile conservation organisations like the WWF and Friends of the Earth to lesser known charities such as the Permaculture Association and The Honeybee Conservancy, and from charities that tackle poverty and social injustice like Water Aid and Tear Fund to groups that fight for climate justice in the courts, like Stop Ecocide and Earth Justice (“Because the Earth needs a good lawyer.”)
One stood out as a clear match. Plan International “drives change to advance the children’s rights and equality for girls”. It was proposed by Brent Simonds – thanks, Brent!
Our strategy is to work with vulnerable children and especially girls so that they can learn, lead, decide and thrive. Within the strategy we have an ambition to transform the lives of 100 million girls. Child sponsorship and grassroots community work are central to our strategy and achieving this ambition.
Plan International ticks some important boxes for us. It’s first and foremost about education, like us. They promote the right to inclusive and quality education for all the children, adolescents and young people around the world, specifically for the more vulnerable, disadvantaged and excluded. They defend education in the most challenging contexts: conflict zones, refugee camps and emergencies. They lend their weight to girls’ education in particular to address the injustice of the different opportunities available for girls and boys.
What’s this got to do with the climate crisis? While it’s true that the environment is a key focus of this year’s conference, it’s not the only way that ELT needs to become more sustainable, and this is reflected in the range of talks on offer. Social injustice in all its forms is unsustainable, and as we’re all discovering, there is so much crossover, so many ways that issues around racism, poverty, gender inequality, mental health, workers’ rights, the global pandemic, global heating and so on all collide to compound each one’s respective problems. Solving one means solving them all. Solving one relies on solving them all. So Plan International’s social aims coincide with those of the conference.
But there is also a connection with the climate. What do you imagine are the top solutions to reverse global heating? Reducing flying? Eating less meat? It turns out that the work of organisations like Plan International inadvertently contribute to reversing global heating. According to Project Drawdown, one of the world’s most respected measures of the relative efficacies of different climate solutions, that health and education (educating girls and family planning) come out as number six in the top 100 solutions, less effective than onshore wind turbines and reducing food waste but above solar farms and improved public transport. You can read the reasons in detail here, but in short, educated women have fewer children, manage agricultural land better, and are more empowered at home, at work and in society. This is not to detract from the improvement in quality of life for millions of women that a decent education can provide. What’s more,
“…education also shores up resilience to climate change impacts. For example, a 2013 study found that educating girls “is the single most important social and economic factor associated with a reduction in vulnerability to natural disasters.” This decreased vulnerability also extends to their children, families, and the elderly.” (Kosmos)
One more thing, Plan International was founded in 1937 by an English journalist during the Spanish civil war to protect children from violence and give the shelter, care and opportunities for a better future. That secured it for us.
So come along to Innovate on the 18th and 19th and be part of the solution. Even if you can’t be there the whole two days, you can still choose from a wide variety of talks, plenaries, workshops, a panel discussion, a demo lesson and social meet-ups, coffee breaks and even a pub quiz in ‘The Garden’.
We can’t wait to see you there!