Unite the Youth Work and Environmental Sectors for A Bright Future

YouthLink Scotland Policy Manager Kevin Kane outlines Our Bright Future's plans to bring the environmental and youth work sectors together to ensure that young people are at the heart of the creation of a greener, fairer society.

As COP26 looms large on the horizon, we have a unique opportunity to involve young people and unite the youth work and environmental sectors, listening to them, and involving them in the key policy and political changes required to support meaningful policy action on climate change. The youth work and environmental sectors have a fundamental role to play in encouraging action, supporting climate education, working in partnership to help young people make connections to nature as a trusted messenger to increase climate literacy.

YouthLink Scotland Partnership with Our Bright Future

Which is why YouthLink Scotland is delighted to be working with Our Bright Future to support their policy and advocacy work in Scotland. Our Bright Future is an ambitious and innovative partnership led by The Wildlife Trusts, bringing together the youth and environmental sectors and is integral to driving forward a positive legacy of COP26.

Each project is helping young people aged 11-24 gain vital skills and experience and improve their wellbeing, acting as catalysts for delivering change for their local community and contributing to a greener future. Young people from across the UK decided on three key changes that would support young people and the environment:

Ask 1: more time spent learning in and about nature

Ask 2: support to get into environmental jobs

Ask 3: Government, employers, businesses, schools and charities to pay more attention to the needs of young people and the environment

The Plan

Over the next year, YouthLink Scotland will be engaging with young people from the Our Bright Future projects and others interested in creating change for young people, the environment and their communities. We are proud to be in a position to bring together young people, environmental and youth sectors, offering new opportunities for the two industries to develop and refine approaches to empower young people to lead future environmental change.

The Future

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.
(Native American proverb)

As society emerges from the pandemic, it is fundamentally important we all now work together to limit the impact of climate change and to implement the changes necessary to make this happen. It is young people who, along with future generations, will have to live with the worst consequences of climate change. Therefore, young people must be central to, and actively engaged in, any public engagement and social/policy action. Young people have demonstrated they have the capacity to implement and adapt to society-wide transformation. We know the climate is a priority area of action for young people and they are eager to engage in action to address the climate emergency. While there are enormous challenges brought by the pandemic, there is a strategic opportunity to build a greener/bluer, fairer and more inclusive society.

A forced re-imagining of a society can help more people see the need to provide food, water, a sustainable environment and a healthy planet for the future. We have already seen the pandemic lead to a reduction in emissions harmful to the climate, making the air safer for us to breathe. However, it is essential that we adopt a shared vision, putting young people at the heart of climate action strategies and harnessing the connectedness of youth work and environmental sectors.

We believe the aims of Our Bright Future and three key asks can help maximise the effectiveness and inclusivity of climate engagement and policy action with and for young people and youth/environmental organisations must be at the heart of delivering it.

If you are a young person, or a youth group leader interested in being part of the Our Bright Future movement, or if you wish to highlight the valuable work you are doing in the areas of outdoor learning, green employability and/or youth action – please get in touch with YouthLink Scotland Senior Development Officer and key contact for Our Bright Future activity, Jenni Snell on jsnell@youthlinkscotland.org

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