‘Let young voices lead!’: Youth in Nature Summit 2024

The Youth in Nature Summit, jointly funded and supported by RSPB, BTO and WWF-UK, was a weekend-long event focused on empowering and enabling young voices to be heard in the environmental sector. Organised by an incredible group of 15–24-year-olds, it was an event ran by and for young people!

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Fuelled by vegan carrot cake and date slices, Youth in Nature Summit’s 260 attendees had a jam-packed two days at the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge. Our Youth Council members, Lisa, Katie, Indy, Freddie and Sennen, and the organising committee spent hours (roughly 1,300 in fact!) shaping every aspect of the event. The itinerary included a line-up of guest speakers, workshops and networking opportunities. The demand for the event was huge, and tickets sold out in less than 36 hours.

The weekend opened with an introductory video from Chris Packham, reminding our young attendees that they are the voice of the future, and calling on them to keep fighting for nature.

Youth in nature summit in discussion with six people on stage facing an audience.

Empowering talks

The attendees heard from multiple speakers who offered up advice on taking action for nature as a young person. RSPB Ambassador and Wildlife presenter, Megan McCubbin, talked about her journey into conservation and discussed what 'activism' really means. Richard Benwell, the CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, led a talk focused on his top tips for influencing and getting your voice heard for young attendees. Youth in Nature Summit participants also heard from Ajay Tegala, a wildlife ranger and TV presenter; the Butterfly Conservation; Flora and Fauna; the WWF-UK; the BTO and more.

Interactive workshops

There were a variety of workshops to engage in, facilitated by different organisations across the environmental sector. ZSL (The Zoological Society of London) offered a session on working with young people in organisations to create change led by their newly created Youth Board. Ramandeep Nijjar & Şeniz Mustafa, key organisers from UK Youth for Nature led a workshop on running campaigns and using your voice for good.

And if attendees needed a break, they could make the most of the Nature Room. It was full of sights, smells, sounds, textures and tastes – all thanks to videos of birdsong, a selection of herbal teas and essential oils, and a variety of skulls and feathers on loan from the University of Cambridge. In addition, there was also a mindfulness session, a creative space and a chat zone.

Youth in nature summit doing an interactive workshop.

Enabling connections

The weekend included two networking fairs: the Careers Fair and the Youth Empowerment Fair.  

The Careers Fair consisted of stands for seven different areas of work, from the creative arts to practical conservation, and here young people could go and ask representatives working in the current field their questions. At the Youth Empowerment Fair, attendees had an opportunity to find out about current opportunities from the 15 different environmental organisations in attendance.

Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB said:

“It was incredibly inspiring to see the passion these young people have for nature and their desire to change things for the better. It is crucial they are given a platform for their voices to be properly heard and that they are at the heart of efforts to tackle the nature and climate crisis. Only by everyone working together can we deliver the change that nature needs.”

The Youth Council on Knepp walk, walking through a grassy field into trees.

Bringing everyone on board

The event was free for under 26s or those in full-time education, and travel bursaries funded all travel for those that requested them. Our commitment to enabling more, and more diverse people to act for nature starts with ensuring cost wasn't a barrier for anyone that wanted to attend.

A key take-home message from the event was the desire to have more young voices shaping the decision-making in organisations. The RSPB is committed to engaging and empowering more young people in our work, and an action we're proud to be taking, with our Youth Council members now joining various Committees within the organisation to ensure young voices have a stake in our work.

Lisa, one of our Youth Council members responsible for organising the event, said:

“Many things were learnt and explored: From realising the importance of intergenerational discussions and work, to empowering change-making across organisations, from those just starting out on their journeys in youth engagement to those with young trustees or youth boards already but looking to share ideas and give advice. Hopefully, it was only the start of many more conversations, ideas and collaborations to come between young people and leaders. A massive success  hard work paid off team!

Thanks to everyone who was involved and supported us, to amazing speakers that inspired us all, it was great to have the space to meet with so many interesting and motivated people; I hope we can continue to collaborate in the environmental sector to fight for the future of our planet.”

Find out more about our Youth Council

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