DofE Climate Action Now - Blog by Ainsley Martin

Ainsley Martin is an Operations Officer at DofE Scotland. She is also a recent graduate of the 2050 Climate Group Young Leader Development Programme. As an outdoor enthusiast, her climate concern began from an environmental focus. She is keen to support young people who are taking part in their DofE to explore climate base issues, and encourage leaders to extend their own knowledge too.  

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The Duke of Edinburgh's Award has been around for over 60 years. Well known for its expeditions, participants must also complete the other sections; Volunteering, Physical and Skill.  

Young people carry out their activities for between 3-18 months depending on what level of the DofE they are working at; Bronze, Silver or Gold.  

At Gold a 5-day Residential is also required. 

Participants are encouraged to choose activities that they are interested in for each of these sections. This personalised approach is key to making their DofE journey uniquely their own. 

In 2021 the DofE launched its new 5-year strategy, with Relevance as a key strategic goal. A 2020 survey shows that 79% of Scots believe that climate change is an “immediate and urgent problem." Narrowing these results down to the 16-24 age group, this rises to 96%.  

It seems only right that we shine a spotlight on how young people can include climate action in their DofE. But how do we as leaders support young people to take on such a potentially overwhelming topic?  

Below are some suggestions and links to resources that can help to support participants who want to frame their Volunteering and Skill section around climate action:  


The skill section is focused on learning new things. Generally learning about climate issues would be a good fit for this.  

Researching the topic as a whole or even focusing on a particular issue could fill many months of learning. Looking at the UN Sustainable Development Goals can be a good place to start, and we have a 13 week programme to help guide participants in their research here.  

Research can be collated in whatever format the participant would prefer; a report, presentation, creating a blog or vlog, or even setting up a dedicated Instagram account to document and share their learning.  

Our programme ideas list has some other specific areas of study that participants could look at. Suggestions include Conservation, Forestry, Marine biology and ecology. They could also add a climate focus to other activities; public speaking, journalism, video editing. Cooking with an eye on seasonal, local, vegetarian, or vegan options could also give this activity a climate action spin.  


For their Volunteering section participants must give time to help others, the community or society. This can be undertaken in their local area, or extend out in to supporting regional, national or even global action.  

Activities like litter picking can be a great way to improve your local area, but this can be a short-term fix. Extending this activity to include campaigning to reduce litter can help to make a bigger impact over a longer period. Citizens Science projects allow anyone to contribute to nation data surveys. Participants can add data about the kind of litter they are collecting, and this information feeds into national campaigns.  

Participants could support running an eco-club or supporting climate action in your local community. If groups don’t yet exist, leaders could support participants to set them up. This might not necessarily be a DofE leader, but another adult in your school or community who has a shared interest in addressing the climate crisis.  

If participants want to get involved in Climate Campaigning, we have a 13 week guide here to help get them started. Campaigning, whether broadly or focusing on a single issue can be an amazing DofE Volunteering activity.  

Did you know that Amy and Ella who started Kids Against Plastic began campaigning when then were only 12 and 10 years old? If fast fashion is an area of concern, Swop It Up is a great example of how one DofE participant started a campaign that you can get involved in now too!  

Participants can volunteer with these organisations, or create a similar campaign in your own area for their Volunteering.  

Further Resources:  

Keep Scotland Beautiful: Training and Recourse Toolkit 

Our Climate action webpage has even more ideas about how participants can frame their DofE Programme around climate action.  

We'd love to hear about any DofE climate action. You can tag us on Twitter and Instagram @DofEScotland to share what your groups have been doing. 

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