Partnerships for knowledge sharing and action to tackle the climate crisis

August 23, 2023

     (1) Collaborative Approaches for Climate Action 

Collaborations aimed at taking action on climate change are essential to achieve desired transformations that can lead to a more sustainable future. The Climate Promise by UNDP is the most extensive program of its kind in the world, providing assistance to nations in fulfilling their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These commitments are critical milestones towards reaching the goal of zero net emissions and fulfilling the objectives of the Paris Agreement. With the involvement of more than 35 partners, the initiative aids over 120 countries and is a significant contribution to the NDC Partnership. North Macedonia is also a signatory of the Paris Agreement, under which our country is submitting the ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ that mark a country’s commitment to advance climate action. 

Mobilizing collective intelligence to fight the climate crisis recognizes the complexity and urgency of the problem and emphasizes the importance of collaboration and innovation in finding solutions. Mobilizing collective intelligence to fight the climate crisis involves leveraging the knowledge, skills, and resources of groups of individuals or organizations to address the challenges posed by climate change. It is about bringing together diverse perspectives, expertise, and experiences to collaboratively generate innovative solutions and take action to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The Accelerator Lab in North Macedonia has been working on piloting and experimenting with policies and processes that center around collective intelligence for the climate change, with this blogpost reflecting on the early results and initial learnings from our pilots. Within this process, we have also partnered up with American Councils for International Education in North Macedonia to embark on a journey of understanding the youth perspective on heat in the city. Through this partnership, the team aims to gain insights into how young people experience heat and the related challenges. This collaboration explored ways to identify where the youth see potential solutions to the increased heat challenge and how they are influenced by heat when making choices related to transportation, recreation, and other daily activities. 

By engaging with the youth, the students research team from the American Councils hoped to gain deeper knowledge of the communities and bring the voice of the youth in the discourse. This knowledge is an addition to the ongoing discourse on the effects of extreme weather induces risks to the population where we are exploring Climate Adaptation actions that can empower communities, local governments to take action. 

     (2) Exploring Youth Perspectives: Methodology and Findings

In this collaborative process, we thoroughly examined the expectations for the process and results, considered different interviewing methods, and formulated possible questions. We opted for an informal interviewing approach, combining open-ended questions and Likert scale responses. The youth from the American Councils conducted interviews with students from several high schools in the city. This was not e representative sample, however served the team to understand what are the possible signals that are communing form the youth. Needless to say, this would be interesting and exciting topic to explore in order to generate more data that can be used as a basis for generalization. 

With the given pool of data, we created respondent personas that included quotes, ages, and their thoughts on the topic. By thoroughly sorting and evaluating the data, we conducted data analysis on heat and heat islands, summarizing and concluding our findings. Through ethnographic research within the youth population, we gained interesting perspectives and deepened our understanding of how this topic is perceived, discussed, and addressed among the younger segment of the population.

     (3) Key Insights and Learnings

Throughout this project, we gained valuable insights from both the research findings and the research process itself. Our observations led to three key learning points:

  1. Perception of heat islands: Among certain Skopje youth, there was a prevailing belief that heat islands are unchangeable and can only be managed. While many participants were aware of potential solutions, they expressed doubts about their implementation. This highlights the need for greater awareness and confidence in the feasibility of implementing effective measures to address heat islands.
  2. Challenges with public transportation: We discovered that buses are the least favorable mode of transportation on hot days in Skopje. This is primarily due to issues such as overcrowding, lack of air conditioning, and bus stations exposed to direct sunlight. Despite these challenges, buses remain the most commonly used transportation option, as other alternatives like biking, electric-scooter sharing services  are available and are gaining more popularity over the summer months.  This finding underscores the need for improvements in public transportation infrastructure and services, particularly in mitigating the effects of heat on commuters.
  3. Data may not always represent the mainstream discourse: We discovered that data collected provided valuable insights. The young people perceptions on heat, might not a mainstream of the discourse, as majority of them did not indicate that there is a major issue, but through this research we understood on how heat and extreme heat influences indoor temperatures, and directly hinders the ability of learning in schools. This piece of research helped us understand that indoor temperatures are a prominent issue for young people, and the position of their classroom influences their ability to learn. By this insight we are able to see a large area to explore, since indoor temperatures are not only prominent for students, but also various communities with limited access to resources, and informal housing. 

By examining these three learning points, we not only advanced our understanding of the youth perspective on heat and urban heat islands in Skopje but also gained valuable knowledge in conducting qualitative research and the challenges and opportunities associated with addressing climate-related issues at the local level.

     (4) Beyond Numbers

In conclusion, the fight against climate change necessitates collaborations and collective intelligence. 

By capturing personal stories, experiences, and contextual information, qualitative data went beyond mere numerical results, enabling us to gain a comprehensive and nuanced view of the youth's perception of heat and urban heat islands. Furthermore, we discovered that primary data collection can yield valuable insights and be able to point to new areas of thinking, and areas of work, as was the example of indoor temperatures in schools and the student’s ability to learn during the heatwaves. 


This blog post is a collaborative effort with the students of the YES Abroad Program at the American Councils in Skopje. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Abigail Taylor, Rachel Smith, Isabella Lastomirsky, Lane Stanley, Duresa Rushiti, Aleksandra Hristovska and all the students who participated in the interview process and provided invaluable insights into the perspectives of the youth and potential solutions.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the American Councils for their support and facilitation of this collaboration. Their commitment to empowering young individuals in addressing climate-related issues is commendable.

Lastly, we extend our thanks to all the individuals and organizations that have contributed to our research journey. Your support and input have been instrumental in the progress and outcomes of this initiative.