CIFAL Málaga-UNITAR (the United Nations Institute for Training and Research) and Amazon have launched the Green Helmets educational initiative, designed to teach young people in Spain how to develop and implement sustainability projects that contribute to the recovery and protection of nature, with judges selecting ten projects to fund and develop in the region of Andalusia over the next 12 months. CIFAL (International Center for the Training of Authorities and Leaders) is UNITAR´s network of 22 training centres to teach citizens and leaders around the world.
The project, supported through the Right Now Climate Fund - Amazon’s commitment to conserve, restore and improve nature and biodiversity in communities where Amazon operates – is the first of its kind in Spain, and will kick off with a pilot programme in collaboration with the Regional Government of Andalusia.
Inspired by the United Nations Blue Helmets, the Green Helmets initiative includes an online learning platform developed by CIFAL Málaga-UNITAR, focusing on skills and best environmental practices linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The course will offer specific content for students from the fifth year of primary school to the second year of their baccalaureates, enabling them to learn about the creation, implementation, running and reporting of nature-based projects.
Teachers will receive additional materials and guidance to organise workshops for students, helping them dive deep into the learning programme. Once participants have completed the training, they can submit their ideas for nature-based projects in collaboration with local governments and NGOs until the end of May. In June, a selection committee formed by members of UNITAR, Amazon and the Andalusian Government will pick ten projects to be funded and developed in the region with the support of Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund.
In addition to the environmental projects proposed by students, funding from Amazon will also support a large reforestation project in Sierra Bermeja, with volunteers planting more than 90,000 trees in a 500-hectare area that was devastated by a fire two years ago.
“We realise that addressing the global challenges of climate change requires a combination of long-term, science-based commitments and everyday actions we can invest in within our communities,” said Zak Watts, European Director of Sustainability at Amazon. “By partnering with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, we’re investing in future generations, turning young people into active agents with skills that can help address the climate crisis, creating a better future for all.”
Julio Andrade, director of CIFAL Málaga-UNITAR, said: “We are delighted to launch this project together with Amazon, and to train young people to work on local projects with real and tangible impact. At CIFAL Málaga we work with partners who have sustainability at the core of their business, and we are convinced that this initiative will be the starting point for thousands of nature conservation and recovery projects, with a real and lasting impact on the planet.”
Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, President of the Autonomous Region of Andalusia, added: “It is an honour for Andalusia that UNITAR has chosen our community to launch the Green Helmets initiative with the support of Amazon. Our land is recognised for its ecological and cultural value, and we have been working for over 30 years to maintain it as one of the most important ecosystems in Europe. We are sure that this initiative will empower Andalusian secondary students to take an active role in its conservation, protection and promotion. I am looking forward to supporting all the projects that are going to be launched as a result of this initiative.”
All participants who complete the training will receive a United Nations Green Helmets certificate to recognise their contribution to fighting climate change and protecting the environment. Those interested in participating can learn more by visiting www.loscascosverdes.org.
In September 2021, Amazon announced it will invest €20M from its $100M Right Now Climate Fund to support nature-based projects across Europe, in addition to the work the company is doing to decarbonise its business. To date, these projects include a nature and wildlife restoration fund in France, a reforestation programme in Italy, an urban greening programme in Germany, a rewilding and tree planting project in the UK, and the world’s first commercial-scale seaweed farm, located between offshore wind turbines off the coast of the Netherlands.
Additionally, Amazon has funded forest conservation and restoration in the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, the Agroforestry and Restoration Accelerator programme in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, and Amazon is a key member of the LEAF Coalition, a new global public-private initiative to mobilise at least $1 billion to protect the world's tropical rainforests.
Amazon is the co-founder of and the first signatory to The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040. More than 400 signatories in 55 sectors and 35 countries – of which 22 are in Spain - are working together on initiatives to preserve nature and invest in decarbonisation technologies. As part of its commitment, Amazon is on a path to reaching 100% renewable energy across its operations by 2025. The company also continues to transform its transportation network, by adding alternative modes of transportation such as electric vans, cargo bikes or scooters, and keeps innovating and investing in technologies, processes, and materials to reduce packaging waste – which have helped reduce the weight of the packaging per shipment by 38% and eliminated the use of more than 1.5 million tons of packaging materials since 2015.
Read more about Amazon’s support for nature-based solutions here.