January 9, 2020 @ 12:13 by Richard Dawson
School children across County Durham are teaming up with businesses on a challenge to come up with business ideas that will protect the planet.
Over 120 students from 17 secondary schools will take part in Future Business Magnates, an initiative now in its 15th year, which sees students and businesses working together to develop, create and present their ideas.
The focus on environment comes as countries around the world and local authorities within them are declaring climate emergencies and committing to reducing carbon emissions.
This year, students are being asked to come up with a business idea that will help to save the planet or will tackle one of the problems caused by climate change.
School children have a unique stake in this issue as it is they who will face the worst effects of climate change. That is why so many young people followed Greta Thunberg’s lead last year and ditched school to protest about the inaction of Government’s on the issue.
At the launch of this year’s Future Business Magnates, students heard from representatives from the Environment Agency (EA) who gave an introduction to the concept of the circular economy, to get the teams’ creativity flowing.
The students will undergo six individual challenges over the coming months, supported by dedicated business partners from successful Durham-based organisations like Zumbotel Group, Honcho Markets, Wates Construction and Waterstons.
The programme will culminate in an awards ceremony in June, hosted by BBC presenter Charlie Charlton.
Sarah Slaven, operations director at Business Durham, said: “This exciting competition aims to inspire young people and help develop the skills needed to start and develop a business.
“Year after year it’s great to see so many positive outcomes for the students, the schools and the business partners. Students are introduced to possible career pathways and develop key communications skills, and businesses are given the opportunity to inspire young people whilst learning more about the world of education.”
Councillor Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council, added: “In February, we declared a climate emergency and set the ambitious target of making all of County Durham carbon neutral by 2050.
“Developing clean industries and promoting a green economy are key to achieving this target and I am really looking forward to seeing what innovative business ideas the students come up with to tackle climate change.
“We all have a responsibility to protect our planet, and the Future Business Magnates Challenge aims to draw upon the passion so many young people across the world have already demonstrated towards this vital cause.”