The Young Pathfinders programme, delivered through Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC) as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, returned this week (October 3) for the third year in a row.
Pupils from across the two local authorities will come together to undertake a series of activities exploring both the challenges presented by climate change and the opportunities that tackling these obstacles can create.
This includes a focus on critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity, culminating in a competition that challenges participants to develop their own sustainable solutions to local environmental issues.
Throughout the programme, the Pathfinders will meet different experts, from University of Stirling scientists to local businesspeople and environmental champions, helping them to understand the diverse impacts of global warming and how a mixture of approaches can play their part in developing greener ways of living.
The young people will also attend career fairs and information sessions that will help them to understand the range of career routes and job opportunities available for those with an interest in the environment, covering everything from further study through to starting their own business, and the skills and qualifications needed to do so.
Rebecca Pankhurst, Scotland’s International Environment Centre Manager, at the University of Stirling, said: “The climate emergency will be felt most by future generations, so it’s essential that we prepare tomorrow’s leaders for the challenges that lie ahead.
"Young Pathfinders empowers young people to think creatively about how these problems might be tackled, and how solutions to local dilemmas can support a wider, global journey towards net zero. I can’t wait to hear the original and exciting ideas that this year’s pupils will put forward.”
The 2023/24 cohort includes pupils from Alloa Academy, Alva Academy, Dollar Academy, Lornshill Academy, McLaren High, Stirling High School, and Clackmannanshire Schools Support Service.
Valuable skills and knowledge
Stirling Council Leader, Councillor Chris Kane, welcomed the return of the initiative. He said: “The Young Pathfinders programme equips our young people with the valuable skills and knowledge to lead the region’s transition to a thriving Net Zero economy – key themes of the City Region Deal.
"The programme has proved hugely popular with participants over the past two years, and I look forward to seeing the new cohort’s innovative solutions on the environmental and climatic challenges in our communities.”
Clackmannanshire Council leader, Councillor Ellen Forson, also wished the new cohort success. Councillor Forson said: “It is great to see the Young Pathfinders programme returning for a third year and I wish all the youngsters in this cohort the very best in their endeavours.
"The need to address climate issues is urgent and ever-present, and it’s vital the Council supports initiatives like this one, which align with our focus on a greener, cleaner future.
"This project will give the young people a chance to take part in challenges designed to test their awareness and thinking and to encourage them to devise their own sustainable solutions to local and global environmental problems, as well as giving them skills they’ll no doubt find useful as they move into further education and employment.”
SIEC will drive the creation of a net-zero regional economy across the Forth Valley, unlocking new opportunities for employment and skills development, as Scotland makes the transition to cleaner, greener ways of working. The Centre is funded through a combined investment of £22m from the UK and Scottish Governments, and additional funding from the University of Stirling and Clackmannanshire Council.
The Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal is a £90.2m investment from the UK Government and Scottish Government in innovation and infrastructure that will drive inclusive economic growth throughout the region. Regional partners, including Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council, and the University of Stirling, will invest up to £123.8m, resulting in a Deal worth more than £214m, to be delivered over the next 10 to 15 years.