Accompanied by their teachers, students from eight schools were received at Quirinale Palace by Italian President Sergio Mattarella on 17 October. These were winners of the “Earth Charter Italian Youth Contest” (“Immagini per la Terra”), organised by Green Cross Italy in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. Mattarella expressed his appreciation to the Italian branch of Green Cross for the initiative, and for the continued commitment to spreading and deepening students’ ecological conscience.
Elio Pacilio, President of Green Cross Italy, presented the awards during the national Earth Charter Youth Contest ceremony. The students also met the Green Cross Italy Founding President Guido Pollice, the Vice President Maria Pia Garavaglia, Italian National Research Council (CNR) physicist Valerio Rossi Albertini, and representative of the Ministry of Education Paolo Sciascia.
Presentations focused on the challenges of climate change – “Tutti Pazzi per il clima (We’re all crazy about the climate)” – looking at the Earth from children’s perspectives, in all its complexity, its problems, and its energy.
The Head of State also spoke with Pacilio about issues Green Cross has been tackling every day, such as the use of land, migration caused by climate change, and the need to teach ecological values to future generations. Pacilio highlighted the necessity, recognized by the IPCC, to stay within the limit of 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. Exceeding that level would create devastating climatic consequences for the environment. Atmospheric CO2 levels already passed the 400 ppm mark in 2015, and continue to grow.
“We don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the last 15 years have been the hottest recorded since scientific surveys of global temperatures began in 1880,” said Pacilio. “It is also not a coincidence that the frequency and intensity of extreme events, such as droughts and hurricanes, have increased. Today the soil is contaminated, exploited, poisoned, mistreated, consumed. Each environmental pollutant influences the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect, and accelerates climate change. All scientific institutions agree that this should lead us even more decisively towards quick and draconian changes in lifestyles and consumption, summarized in two words: adaptation and mitigation. Along with the thousands of students who have joined us over the years, we will continue to demand that governments undertake definitive action to care for our common home, the earth.”
Since this competition’s first edition in 1992, Green Cross Italy has enabled the implementation of some 360 environmental projects. Winning schools receive a prize of €1,000 to support environmental initiatives in their school or city.
During the meeting Pacilio also referenced Nobel Prize laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini, who for years has guided the association. She has been an important source of inspiration for initiatives targeting young people.
The original text, in Italian, can be found here.