Supporting young leaders in climate action

According to Catherine Leatherland of Scottish Wildlife Trust, COP26 should be the catalyst for change.

There has never been a better time for Scotland to focus on the climate crisis. And this is the main issue that has most engaged young people in recent years. Greta Thunberg mobilised young voices globally, and it’s had an impact, older generations are starting to listen.

At the Scottish Wildlife Trust we felt that impact, and that of the ever present lack of young voices within decision making levels of our organisation. The Year of Young People gave us a chance to do something about it. In 2018 the Trust piloted a Young Leaders programme, with no additional funding, for just eight months. Two years later the team is still going strong!

As a team of 12 volunteers, aged 20-to-30, the Young Leaders very existence makes our work more accessible to other young people.

We are very keen to make sure each Young Leader’s skills and knowledge are listened to and used, as well as given the chance to develop during their time in the role.

Rosie, SWT Young Leader:

“One of the first major projects I was involved in was the Scottish Election Twitter Campaign, in which we produced a video stressing the importance of wildlife in the fight against climate change to politicians. The success of this led to the Young Leaders getting their very own Twitter account where we interact with politicians and the public directly whilst highlighting youth voices. Enabling young people to have a level of responsibility within an organisation is a great way to boost confidence and directly encourage other young people to get involved alongside their peers.

“Many young people heading into the conservation sector fear that they may not have studied the correct degree or have the necessary experiences. However, even as one of the newest members of the Young Leader team, I have been able to gain a deeper understanding of how conservation organisations run and the huge variety of career paths available in this field.

“This role allows me to work alongside my peers to develop opportunities for young people to interact with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and have their opinions on climate and conservation heard. I’m looking forward to the success of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Young Leaders showing other organisations how valuable young people are in the fight against climate change.”

This year, the Young Leaders are working on their biggest project yet – to lead the youth engagement work ahead of COP26.

This summer we held Young People’s Nature Assemblies, which will lead to a Youth Manifesto. A series of videos highlight Nature Based Solutions – measures that restore nature and as a result help to solve wider problems. 

All of this work demonstrates the action young people across the UK believe is needed from leaders both locally and globally, to tackle both the climate emergency and the interlinked biodiversity crisis.

The Young Leaders’ work will directly help thousands of young people have their say. It is led and delivered by young people, for young people. Just two years ago, the team didn’t exist. It goes to show what young people can do, if they are simply invited to the discussion.

W www.scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/

T @ScotWild_YL

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