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(Department of Science and Technology Studies, Faculty of Science UM)

Introduction: Climate change and extreme weather can greatly impact the physical and mental health of young people, affecting their safety, well-being, and overall mental health. It's important to understand young people's perspectives on climate change, including their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, in order to enhance adaptation and mitigation efforts. Unfortunately, many young individuals who could benefit from climate change programs often aren't reached, partly due to a lack of thorough evaluation.

A sustainability literacy survey is conducted at Universiti Malaya among Universiti Malaya students during the orientation week called UM Week of Welcome (UM-WOW), sought to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of young people regarding climate change. This intervention is coordinated by UM Student Affairs Division in collaboration with UM Sustainable Development Centre (UMSDC), carried out in 2022. Objectives of this study included understanding the level of awareness among Universiti Malaya's youth and exploring the relationships between their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. This study is significant as it helps gauge young individuals' comprehension of climate change and their corresponding attitudes and behaviors. Furthermore, it aligns with sustainable development objectives and provides valuable insights for implementing environmental initiatives. Additionally, it supports Universiti Malaya's sustainability programs and offers insights for future interventions.

Figure 1: Research Framework

Data sampling: Data from Universiti Malaya were gathered using a purposive sampling technique. The statistics came from 2,664 new intake students who participated in the Week of Welcome (WOW) orientation in October 2022. 

Study design: The questionnaire survey is set up with questions about sociodemographics and the knowledge, attitude, and practices on climate change among youth in Universiti Malaya. The respondents are appointed to answer each question using a five-point Likert scale, (1) being “strongly disagree”, (2) being “disagree”, (3) being “neutral”, (4) being “agree” and (5) being “strongly agree”.  There are three main sections of the questionnaires, which touches on knowledge, attitude, and practices on climate change.

Knowledge of Climate Change Among Youth (K)
K1    I understand the meaning of ‘climate change’.
K2    Climate change effects are getting serious.
K3    Climate change adaptation strategies can reduce the impact on youth's livelihood.
K4    Vehicle emission is the cause of climate change.
K5    Cutting down trees and mangroves is the cause of climate change.
K6    Irresponsible activity by humans is the cause of climate change.
K7    Climate change cannot be happening naturally for no specific reason.
K8    The increasing sea level is the result of climate change.
K9    The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events result from climate change.

Youth’s Attitude to Climate Change (A)
A1    I believe that climate change is real
A2    I understand and am aware of climate change effects
A3    Climate change affects my livelihood
A4    My community has been impacted by climate change effects over the past 5 years.
A5    I’m concerned about climate change.
A6    My campus has provided me with enough information about climate change.
A7    Climate change can lead to physical and mental issues.
A8    I’m aware of what actions I could take to lessen the impact of climate change.
A9    I believe that human activities have caused global climate change.
A10    I believe that tackling climate change issues is part of my responsibility.

Youth’s Practices on Climate Change (P)
P1    I read about climate change on the news and social media.
P2    I discuss climate change with my family and friends.
P3    I reuse, reduce, and recycle the waste. 
P4    I practice proper waste disposal and composting.
P5    I conserve and save electricity and water.
P6    I use public transport and practice carpooling.
P7    I have joined the climate change activism program.
P8    I have joined climate change seminars/workshops.
P9     I have volunteered in disaster relief missions (i.e. flood, landslide, etc.). 


Instrumentation: The survey instrument was created using Google Forms, with a consent statement and a link, to match the design of the questionnaire.

Result & Discussion: According to the data, youth in Universiti Malaya shows a high level of knowledge, attitude, and practices toward climate change. 

A.    Level of Knowledge of Climate Change Among Youth in Universiti Malaya

There were nine (9) items included under the knowledge sections. Question K6: "Irresponsible activity by humans is the cause of climate change" received the largest number of "Strongly Agree" responses from students (74.3%). This suggests that the undergraduate students are aware of the main causes of climate change.

Most respondents also agreed that the effects of climate change are becoming more severe (item K2), with 70.3% strongly agreeing and 28.7% agreeing. Just 1% of respondents disagreed with the assertion. When questioned about question K7, "Climate change cannot be happening naturally for no particular reason," just 5.9% strongly agreed, 8.9% disagreed, and 22.8% were undecided.

Nevertheless, the respondents' knowledge of climate change was generally positive. One explanation for this might be that since 2016, UM has been pursuing the eco-campus program, through which several campus activities are carried out using products from Universiti Malaya’s living laboratories that aim to minimise negative environmental effects. Additionally, the University of Malaya's students and staff are regularly informed of eco-campus accomplishments via email and an official social media platform, where they can learn about water and oceans, climate change, and other crucial news that calls for the promotion of sustainability. 

B.    Level of Attitude to Climate Change Among Youth in Universiti Malaya

Item A1 "I believe that climate change is real" had the highest number of "Strongly Agree" responses from students (70.3%). This shows that Universiti Malaya’s new undergraduate students have a consistent understanding and attitude toward the concept of global climate change. Most respondents (60.4% strongly agreed and 35.6% agreed) also agreed that human activity has contributed to global climate change (item A9). The remaining 3% were undecided on the subject, while 1% disagreed. 

Only 3% of respondents strongly agreed and 12.9% agreed when asked about item A7, "My campus has provided me with enough information about climate change," nevertheless. This is understandable considering that the respondents were first-year students and still unfamiliar with most activities conducted on the campus. Different strategies may be considered to improve the level of attitude of youth toward climate change on campus.

C.    Level of Practices on Climate Change Among Youth in Universiti Malaya

The item P5 " I conserve and save electricity and water" had the largest number of "Strongly Agree" responses from students (33.7%). Item P1's "I read about climate change on the news and social media" was likewise largely agreed upon by respondents, with 49.5% agreeing and 34.7% strongly agreeing.  Similar patterns may be seen for questions P7 and P9, where the majority of respondents have not participated in disaster assistance or climate change activism. Youth at Universiti Malaya generally engage in far fewer climate change practices than they should give their attitudes and level of understanding.

Notably, Sustainable Development Goal 13 (climate action) is the most pressing area of conflict regarding environmental concerns. However, the level of practice on climate change among youth is not as great as their knowledge and understanding.

Acknowledgement: This study is carried out and completed in 2023 by Ms. Insyirah Syazwani Binti Abd Rahim, a Master of Sustainability Science under the supervision of Dr. Nor Aishah Abdullah [Project Leader of UM EcoCampus Living Lab LL2023ECO014 Climate Superhero: Campus-led Climate Change Mitigation Campaign (CCMC) through Gamification)] from the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Faculty of Science UM.


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Last Update: 20/03/2024