Youth work's role for people and planet - Scottish Government perspective

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training and Mairi McAllan, Minister for Environment and Land Reform talk about youth work’s crucial role in supporting young people to take action on climate.

We’d like to thank YouthLink Scotland for giving us the opportunity to write this joint  piece for the Link magazine. A magazine focused on the global climate emergency and the challenges and opportunities it brings for young people throughout Scotland.

We are acutely aware of how the climate emergency will impact Scotland’s young people and how central our young people have been in demanding climate action. We are incredibly grateful for the huge effort that the youth work sector have put into actively supporting young people to learn more about the climate emergency and on taking mitigating action.

With COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland will be in the spotlight on the world stage. We already have the most ambitious legal framework for emissions reduction in the world, culminating in our world-leading target to reach net zero emission by 2045; our emissions are down by 51.5% since 1990 meaning that we continue to out-perform the UK as a whole in delivering long-term emissions reduction; and as part of tackling the twin climate and nature crisis, we are leading the Edinburgh Process to ensure a global, ‘whole of government’ approach to tackling biodiversity loss.

COP26 in Glasgow presents Scotland’s young people with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help shape thinking on the global stage and the Scottish Government is determined that they will be heard. Youth workers all over Scotland will be crucial in supporting young people to communicate their ideas in the best way for them and we relish the chance to support this. That’s why publications like the Link magazine, and the National Youth Work Conference, are so important – they bring the global climate emergency and the youth work sector together.

The climate and nature emergencies affect us all. We welcome and admire the leadership that young people have shown here.  They recognise, as do we, that while their generation and those to come would suffer most from any global inaction now, they also stand to benefit from a greener, fairer economy and society including in industries of the future. Future generations deserve a more equal, just, and fair future which is healthy, sustainable and from which no one is left behind.

That is why Scotland is taking a unique, rights-based approach to involving children and young people in our climate actions and ambitions. Their rights are embedded in our National Performance Framework, in our incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in our vision and values. We are working with, and advocating for, children and young people so that they: have opportunities to participate meaningfully before, during and after COP-26; and are equipped with the skills and opportunities to be champions for our net zero ambitions longer-term and to be heard and heeded by decision-makers.

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