Stirling and Clackmannanshire pupils get creative to tackle the climate emergency


Pupils from schools in Stirling and Clackmannanshire are the latest to benefit from a pioneering initiative helping them to prepare for a climate-changed future.

The Young Pathfinders programme, delivered through Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC) as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, returned yesterday [October 3] for the third year in a row.

Pupils from across the two local authorities will come together to undertake a series of activities exploring both the challenges presented by climate change and the opportunities that tackling these obstacles can create.

This includes a focus on critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity, culminating in a competition that challenges participants to develop their own sustainable solutions to local environmental issues.

Throughout the programme, the Pathfinders will meet different experts, from University of Stirling scientists to local businesspeople and environmental champions, helping them to understand the diverse impacts of global warming and how a mixture of approaches can play their part in developing greener ways of living.

The young people will also attend career fairs and information sessions that will help them to understand the range of career routes and job opportunities available for those with an interest in the environment, covering everything from further study through to starting their own business, and the skills and qualifications needed to do so.

Rebecca Pankhurst, Scotland’s International Environment Centre Manager, at the University of Stirling, said: “The climate emergency will be felt most by future generations, so it’s essential that we prepare tomorrow’s leaders for the challenges that lie ahead. Young Pathfinders empowers young people to think creatively about how these problems might be tackled, and how solutions to local dilemmas can support a wider, global journey towards net zero. I can’t wait to hear the original and exciting ideas that this year’s pupils will put forward.”

The 2023/24 cohort includes pupils from Alloa Academy, Alva Academy, Dollar Academy, Lornshill Academy, McLaren High, Stirling High School, and Clackmannanshire Schools Support Service.

Stirling Council Leader, Councillor Chris Kane, welcomed the return of the initiative. Councillor Kane said: “The Young Pathfinders programme equips our young people with the valuable skills and knowledge to lead the region’s transition to a thriving Net Zero economy – key themes of the City Region Deal.

“The programme has proved hugely popular with participants over the past two years, and I look forward to seeing the new cohort’s innovative solutions on the environmental and climatic challenges in our communities.”

Clackmannanshire Council leader, Councillor Ellen Forson, also wished the new cohort success. Councillor Forson said: “It is great to see the Young Pathfinders programme returning for a third year and I wish all the youngsters in this cohort the very best in their endeavours. The need to address climate issues is urgent and ever-present, and it’s vital the Council supports initiatives like this one, which align with our focus on a greener, cleaner future.

“This project will give the young people a chance to take part in challenges designed to test their awareness and thinking and to encourage them to devise their own sustainable solutions to local and global environmental problems, as well as giving them skills they’ll no doubt find useful as they move into further education and employment.”

SIEC will drive the creation of a net-zero regional economy across the Forth Valley, unlocking new opportunities for employment and skills development, as Scotland makes the transition to cleaner, greener ways of working. The Centre is funded through a combined investment of £22m from the UK and Scottish Governments, and additional funding from the University of Stirling and Clackmannanshire Council.

The Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal is a £90.2m investment from the UK Government and Scottish Government in innovation and infrastructure that will drive inclusive economic growth throughout the region. Regional partners, including Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council, and the University of Stirling, will invest up to £123.8m, resulting in a Deal worth more than £214m, to be delivered over the next 10 to 15 years.


Media enquiries to Peter Swindon, Communications Officer, at or 07393249946.

Notes to editors

Image attached. Pictured (l-r)Sophie Taylor (Lornshill Academy), Isla MacPherson (Alva Academy), Dr Sasha Saunders, (Enterprise Programme Manager, University of Stirling), Kyle Keiller (Clackmannanshire Schools Support Service), Dr John Rogers (Executive Director, Research, Innovation and Business Engagement, University of Stirling) Nathi Halimana (Alloa Academy), Emily Appleby (Stirling High School), Siena Scott-Vladimirov (Dollar Academy), John Robertson (Enterprise Programme Officer, University of Stirling).

University of Stirling

The University of Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions, and helping to shape society. Stirling is 4th in Scotland and 43rd in the UK for research impact, with 87% of its research having an outstanding or very considerable impact on society – and more than 80% rated either world leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2021).

The University of Stirling is ranked among the top 30 UK universities for student satisfaction (National Student Survey) and top 30 in the UK for postgraduate student experience (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey), and has an overall five-star rating in the QS Stars University Ratings.

More than 18,000 students study with the University of Stirling globally, with over 140 nationalities represented on its scenic central Scotland campus alone. The University – also home to 1,700 staff – is ranked first in the UK and top three in the world for its campus environment (International Student Barometer 2022, wave two). Ranked first in the UK and top five in the world for its sports facilities (International Student Barometer 2022, wave two), Stirling is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence. Its world-class facilities provide the perfect training environment for the University’s sports scholars – many of whom compete at the highest level, including at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games – and for students, staff, and the wider community.

The University has twice been recognised with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize – the first for its Institute for Social Marketing and Health (2014) and the second for its Institute of Aquaculture (2019).

The University is a signatory to the £214 million Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal and a central partner of the Forth Valley University College Health Partnership. @stiruni

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