With negotiators at COP26 discussing the future of our planet it is vital we listen to the voices of the next generation.
This is the statement written by RSPB’s Youth Council, made up of young people from across the UK. Together, they discuss ideas, help shape the RSPB’s work and ensure that young people are represented in everything the RSPB does.
“We are ten young people from all across the UK, from all walks of life, representing the largest conservation charity in the UK.
We are fighting for our future, which is being washed away with the flooding of fields, streets, towns and entire communities. The RSPB youth council is making this statement to represent young people, to show that not enough meaningful change has been made. Our governments haven't been prioritising our futures, the future of our planet. This needs to change.
We have tried to speak up on these issues, through sending letters to the Prime Minister and other government officials, through peaceful protests and campaigns. But we feel that the government is pushing us to the side and trying to silence us.
As young people, we are treated as though we are uninformed or overreacting; we are seen as inferior. We want to create a future where people from every generation and background can work together to create a brighter future for us all.
Climate change affects us all, but disproportionately. Why should island communities being lost to ever rising oceans suffer for the selfishness of stronger economies? Why should marginalised groups be given less of a chance to battle against climate change when they experience the worst of it?
There are four demands that we want met. The first is better education. Although climate change is covered briefly in most curriculums, we want the world around us to be an integral part across the board, being taught from a younger age. Most children don’t realise how impactful their actions can be, and how important it is to make positive decisions. We want this to be taught directly to all students. If this isn’t achieved soon, a whole generation of changemakers will be lost.
Accessibility to nature and the environment should be easier. The link between wellbeing and nature has been proven over and over again. It should be a right that everybody has, not just able-bodied people that live rurally. We want more funding into accessibility; providing more green spaces in cities, better public transport to nature reserves, and investment into making it easier for people with disabilities to access the natural world. Without this, we will see more inequality and worsening wellbeing for many vulnerable people.
The key to a good democracy is representation, and this is impossible to achieve if huge portions of the population are being ignored. This is why we want to see youth representation in the heart of our decision-making processes. We need a youth body, democratically elected to ensure that the voice of our generation is being heard by the people who are in control of our futures. This needs to be implemented immediately, before it is too late and our voices have already been drowned by the rising sea levels.
Finally, we want commitment that our green spaces will be protected from development. Ancient woodlands and crucial marshes are being destroyed in the name of profits, and this must stop. It is impossible to bring back key environmental spaces overnight, hundreds of years of biodiversity and perfectly balanced ecosystems will continue to be lost if this is not stopped.
It is too late to completely reverse the damage that we have caused. But it is not too late to work together to build a more sustainable future.”
Visit our RSPB Youth Council pages to find out more about their work or get involved.
Last Updated: Tuesday 7 December 2021