Children need nature for their health and wellbeing, their education, and the development of vital social skills. However, today's children are less connected to nature than ever before and they’re missing out on these benefits. An additional, disturbing, consequence is that they’re less likely to take action to save nature now and in the future.
A great tool that governments can use to help children develop a connection to nature is the national curriculum. Through this they can ensure there are opportunities for children to experience it firsthand, to learn about ecology and the environment, and about how humans can impact on nature.
As you may have seen in the press recently, the Department for Education is currently consulting on reforms to the national curriculum for 5-14 year-olds in England. You have the opportunity to respond until 16 April, and we’d encourage you to do so if you have 10 minutes to spare.
As you’ll see from the points below, there are wider implications for saving nature. Therefore, if you do respond, we’d like you to forward your response to your MP and ask them to write to Richard Benyon MP (Minister for Environment) to encourage the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to fully engage with the reform of the national curriculum.
Here are a few points you could raise in your response in relation to the draft programmes of study:
Given the scale of these challenges, we feel that additions must be made to the statutory requirements:
Please e-mail your response to the consultation to NationalCurriculum.CONSULTATION@education.gsi.gov.uk by 16 April.
To find out who your MP is and how to contact them you can visit the UK Parliament website, or you could use the Write to Them website. Please let us know if you’ve taken part by commenting on this post or by e-mailing email@example.com – we’d also be interested to see any replies you receive.
Thanks for your help!
The first (of hopefully many!) Campaigns Training Days was held at the NCVO in London on Saturday the 23rd of February. It was a very cold start but as the snow began to fall over Regent’s Canal, our campaigners arrived for a day of campaigns focussed discussions, group work and activities.
Thank you to all those who braved the weather to be there, the day was a success (we received really positive feedback so thank you) and it was great to meet so many like-minded new faces (personally, it really gives me great hope to think that there’s such a diverse group of people out there who share a love of nature and want to help protect it!).
The day included a ‘Good Campaigns’ breakout, which involved watching successful campaign videos both from the RSPB and from other organisations (one of which you can see here). Laura MacKenzie then kindly came in to talk to us about her role as a Parliamentary Researcher (for the MP Caroline Lucas), which gave us some really useful insights into how an MP’s office responds to campaigners, and also gave champions a chance to ask questions on the best way of contacting MPs. The afternoon saw some Campaigns Speed Dating! With Paul Outhwaite providing the hypothetical case of the Thames Estuary Airport to lead the discussions on constructing a campaigns plan using letter writing, social media, traditional media and face to face lobbying. With all that on the agenda the day went very quickly!
For those of you that are perhaps unfamiliar with the NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organisations), and would like some more general campaigning information (non-RSPB related), the NCVO website has some great links to campaigns resources and is well worth having a look at for further information and practical support in campaigning. The site can provide further information on the popular subjects that people wanted to know more about including the use of social media, contacting your MP and lobbying various audiences. Please do have a look, but if there are any further campaigns related questions you might have please feel free to ask by commenting on this blog below or by emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for signing our petition to David Cameron, calling on him to ‘vote for nature’ in Brussels and protect wildlife-friendly farming funds from disproportionate cuts.
Over 30,000 of you joined our call, an overwhelming response!
The EU Budget negotiations resulted in a deal between the heads of state of the 27 countries, but the outcomes were disappointing for wildlife-friendly farming. The funds were cut severely – more heavily than those on other parts of agriculture funding that don’t deliver such public benefits BUT the cuts were not as deep as had been discussed in earlier negotiations.
The EU Budget is not the last word on money for wildlife-friendly farming. The European Parliament now picks up the decision making and over the next few months will vote on the details of the next seven years' farming policy, so there are plenty of opportunities to secure gains for wildlife.
We’ll continue to advocate a farming policy that looks after our farmland for the future, not just for now, and delivers more for wildlife and the environment. We’ll need your help again at this next stage, to show your MEPs that wildlife on farms matters to the people they represent, so watch this space for news...
In the mean time if you would like to read more of our analysis of the Budget decision, you can take a look at Conservation Director Martin Harper's blog.
Thank you once again for your support and we look forward to campaigning with you further in the future.
Written by Steven Roddy, Head of Parliamentary Campaigns.
The RSPB has a prominent role to play in advocating for better protection of wildlife in the UK. The way that we do this depends on what we are campaigning for and which country we are in. Of the four countries that make up the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved powers which affect how the RSPB, as a conservation organisation, work and who we work with. It is important from a campaigning point of view that we are speaking to the right people, and about the right things.
In 1997 there was a referendum which asked Scots if they wanted a devolved parliament. Nearly 75% of Scotland voted in favour of a Scottish Parliament and after the Scotland Act 1998 was passed, a Scottish Parliament was formed, with members elected in 1999. The Scottish Parliament is housed in the fantastic building at Holyrood, designed by Barcelona architect Enric Miralles. The last time the Scottish Parliament met before 1999 was in 1707 when the Act of the Union was passed, which abolished the parliaments of Scotland and England and created a single parliament at Westminster.
“...Scottish Parliament holds the responsibility for a range of environmental and climate change issues”
The Scottish Parliament holds responsibility for ‘devolved matters’ whereas the Westminster Parliament is responsible for ‘reserved matters’. In other words, Westminster reserves the right to legislate for certain things and everything else becomes the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. Importantly for RSPB Scotland, the Scottish Parliament holds the responsibility for a range of environmental and climate change issues. This means that within the four countries of the UK, the RSPB has to adapt the way we campaign on different issues, tailoring what we do towards the different governments and administrations.
Since 1999, RSPB Scotland has been involved with many campaigns that have been specific to Scotland’s devolved powers. Our most recent high profile campaign has centred on the designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the seas around Scotland. This is a good example of how, to be effective, we have to campaign from a Scottish perspective. The different administrations around the UK passed their respective marine acts around the same time (with the exception of NI). The Marine Act in Scotland gave the Scottish Government the powers to designated areas of the sea that would protect the best of Scotland’s marine wildlife.
Photo by: Julia Harrison. Photo from a recent parliamentary event held at Holyrood, organised by RSPB Scotland and hosted by Angus MacDonald MSP.
The RSPB has a fantastic base of knowledgeable and impassioned supporters who care about the environment and are willing to campaign with us for what we, collectively, believe to be in the best interests of wildlife in the UK. In Scotland we have drawn upon this wealth of support to try and persuade the Scottish Government to include protection for seabirds in its designation of MPAs. However the only way for this campaign to be effective is to speak to Scottish supporters about our marine wildlife so they too try to influence the Scottish Government.
Colleagues in Wales and England are engaged in similar campaigns concentrating on issues and processes relevant to their areas. It is only with this regionalised, but collective, approach that we can be successful. We have to draw upon experience and support from all over the UK, but then adapt that knowledge to work at a national and a local level.
With the political system as it is in the UK the RSPB are extremely fortunate to have a great number of highly experienced and innovative people working for nature. We are even more fortunate to have the support from so many members of the public because we simply cannot be an effective campaigning organisation, either on a UK or devolved level, without the voice of our supporters.
As we go forward there is a certain degree of uncertainty about how the political landscape will change in the UK. Next year Scotland will hold an independence referendum, and if Scotland votes yes for independence it will separate from the UK in 2016, followed by a Scottish General Election. There is also a UK general election in 2015, and, if the Tories are re-elected, there will be a referendum on EU membership in 2017. Whatever the future holds, the RSPB and other organisations, have to continue to work in Westminster, Cardiff, Stormont and at Holyrood to make sure that the environment does not become a martyr for the economy. It makes economic sense to invest in our environment after all.
The most effective way of campaigning for a better environment is by sharing ideas and information at a UK level and adapting that to our respective countries.
If you would like to campaign with us and add your voice to RSPB’s million supporters please click here to register. In Scotland, we aim to trial a Campaign Champions programme over the next few months. Campaign Champions will be empowered to campaign at the local and national level on the most important environmental issues of the day. Keep an eye out for more information on our website.
Written by Allan Whyte, Parliamentary Assistant
A Happy New Year to you (better late than never!)
As promised here’s a bit more on what’s to come campaigns wise in the first part of 2013, this week focussing on the CAP reform....
Many of you have been following our activity around the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in Europe. Over 70% of the UK is farmed, so this is an incredibly important policy for UK wildlife. It’s just a tiny proportion of CAP funding that’s dedicated to wildlife-friendly farming, but it represents one of the biggest pots of money available for wildlife conservation in the UK countryside.
The EU Budget sets the headline figures available for the CAP, so has a big influence on wildlife-friendly farming funds. Last November many of you emailed David Cameron before he went to the first Budget summit between EU heads of state. The November talks collapsed, but the PM is due to head back to Brussels on 7 February, when a final agreement is expected. Please watch our video to find out why the budget matters so much and sign the petition to tell David Cameron to vote for nature.
Once the Budget has been agreed we’ll be focussing our attention back on MEPs, who will vote through the CAP reforms. There’s still a lot of change needed to get to a better policy that supports wildlife alongside sustainable food production, but there are also still opportunities for our MEPs to grasp that message and fight to get it into the reform.
Watch this space for updates on what’s next, but for now we’ve got just a few days to ask Cameron to vote for nature so please share this campaign with your friends once you’ve signed!
Written by Stephanie Landymore, photo by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)