Speaking 4 the Planet: An initiative where science meets art

Phil Smith, Director, Speaking 4 the Planet

Speaking 4 the Planet is founded on the belief that Science provides the information we need to achieve sustainability, and the Arts are the vehicles to bring change to our societies: Science provides the data; the Arts change the world.

Beat Plastic Pollution. Connecting People to Nature. Illegal Trade in Wildlife. Seven Billion Dreams.One Planet.Consume with Care. Raise your Voice, Not the Sea Level. Think.Eat.Save. Beat Air Pollution.

You might recognise these as recent World Environment Day themes. Speaking 4 the Planet is an Arts-based approach to Sustainability Education. The competition links local environmental and sustainability priorities to the World Environment Day theme and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“As a student, I would recommend Speaking 4 the Planet to others as it acts as a wake-up call to the crisis we are currently in. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn how we can help save our planet.”

Primary schools recently joined in a similar competition, Kids 4 the Planet. This year, a Speaking UP 4 the Planet will be piloted with universities; it will include a national speaking component for pre-service teachers. Competition categories have also evolved since the first event eight years ago: for 2020, students can participate in speaking, drama, art, writing, memes and video categories.

“I would say to other teachers that S4P is a great day for students to engage with real-world environmental issues using their creativity. It was great to see a variety of arts used to share such an important message.”

– Rachel McKendrick, teacher

Speeches, performances, artworks, videos and pieces of writing (30 words!) have explored solutions to sustainability problems. Chess games where losing pieces are islands drowning. Eating less meat. A Copernican shift in how we dream – putting the planet at the centre instead of our desires. A planet where the boss, Humanity, sacked the hardest worker – Nature – but then had to beg Nature to return. ‘I will,’ she said, ‘but there will be conditions.’

“Now I can tell stories through art.”

– Primary School student, Hampden Public School.

Speaking 4 the Planet builds skills and confidence in communication, research, argument, and advocacy. The events provide students with opportunities to express their views and feelings on issues that concern them and the whole of humanity. Such opportunities are good for their well-being and for their sense of agency. These competitions strengthen leadership and advocacy skills, and they build networks of youth.

“Speaking 4 the Planet ignited in me a passion for the cause and perhaps a career path.”

– Student, The Hills Shire.

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