On Friday 5th November 2021, COP26 have dedicated a day to Youth and Public Empowerment. This blog post explores the importance of youth voice and how community action groups can help to make real change in the face of the climate and ecological crises.
On Friday 5th November, COP26 have a day dedicated to Youth and Public Empowerment. To explore this topic more, we have spoken to two residents in the Biosphere who are championing action for sustainability.
The voice of young people is more important than ever. The climate and ecological crises will affect their futures, and so engaging young people with climate change and giving them space to share their thoughts and often, frustrations, is vital.
Many young people experience climate anxiety. It impacts everyday decision making and makes people fearful of the future. We must make space for young people to let their voices be heard. At the Youth4Climate2021: Driving Ambition Event, Alok Sharma recognised the frustration that accompanies the knowledge that the "response of world leaders has not come close to meeting the scale of the climate crisis".
Maisie Frost is the elected Youth Member of Parliament for Torridge, North and West Devon. Maisie sent us a few words to describe her role as a Youth Member of Parliament and why she wants action on the climate emergency.
"It is my responsibility to represent and get the voices heard of the young people in my area. We believe youth voice should be at the heart of all decisions as we are the future and your future leaders! As Devon Youth Parliament we launch campaigns, work with decision makers and shout about what we care about to make change. There is a newly launched Devon Youth Council by which young people can get involved in our work without getting elected. You can sign up here! The UK Youth Parliament and Youth Councils are the most amazing opportunities for everyone to get involved in. We are here to champion change and change society’s negative perception of teenagers! It is imperative we listen to young people and empower our ideas. Join us for the future of politics.
"The Climate emergency is something all young people are concerned about. We know that we will be the ones affected and that is scary. We have marched through the streets to tell adults they must act now but still we have only seen meaningless discussion. We don’t have time to waste.
"Follow me @myp_maisie on social media @devonyouthparliament @devonyouthcouncil. Email me! I want to hear from you!"
We want to showcase how community-driven action can make real change for the environment and its people. We spoke to Nick Withers, a member of the community group Sustainable Chulmleigh. This group was formed in September 2019, and has been championing community action for sustainability since!
How can communities work together in the face of the climate and ecological crises?
"Events bring communities together. By focussing on small, achievable goals, people can feel the positive change they are making and can see tangible results. For example, Sustainable Chulmleigh was approached by a local farmer needing volunteers to help plant 1400 trees for a North Devon Biosphere project called Woods 4 Water. Well over twenty volunteers came forward, aged between three and eighty! All trees were planted over two weekends. It was a great community event and I think the young families found it most enjoyable!"
What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own community group?
"Just do it! Two years ago I had a conversation with another Chulmleigh resident and we realised we were both seriously concerned by the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity. We each invited a few friends to have a chat and Sustainable Chulmleigh was born! We now have a Facebook group with over 270 members and lots of great community events under our belts!"
Have you been inspired to join a local community group that focusses on sustainable action? Most groups are on Facebook, have a search around and see where your closest group is. If you can't see one - make one! Start to have discussions with your neighbours and members of the community about what might be concerning you from a local level to a global level.
While today's world leaders have the opportunity at COP26 to make meaningful change for us all, individual and community action is an extremely important aspect of tackling the climate and ecological crises. There are loads of things you can do: make a Pledge for Nature, sign the Nature Recovery Declaration, calculate your carbon footprint and find ways to reduce your impact on the planet, join a community group, and write to your MP about environmental issues you care about. Be inspired by the action of others and inspire others into action!
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