Progress in environment

Tackling theClimate Crisis

Young people were leading the way on environmental issues well before Greta Thunberg hit the headlines.
Environmental charities have worked with young people for years, but young volunteers were often excluded from decision-making.
Hear from #iwill partner organisations, Groundwork and RSPB, on how they’ve removed barriers to involvement and engaged with young people at a more meaningful level.

Groundwork: Growing green social activists

Groundwork is a federation of charities that mobilises practical community action on poverty and the environment across the UK. Its work includes running grass-roots projects, providing energy-efficiency advice to vulnerable households and training young people in horticulture as a stepping stone to employment. “Youth work is a vital part of the way we engage with communities,” says Stephanie Lynch, Groundwork’s Youth Participation Officer. “That’s why we were so keen to get involved with the #iwill campaign.”.

“We were attracted by the idea of helping our young volunteers feel part of something bigger – a national campaign, and we share the ambition of making social action into a habit for young people.”
Groundwork already had a Youth Advisory Board - which participates in business planning, programme design and campaign development activities - but wanted to know more about working with young trustees.“The #iwill team was really helpful,” says Stephanie.
“Two of their young trustees talked to our board - Haroon Ahmed, who was on the #iwill Fund Leadership Board, and Pauline Meyers, who is a Step Up To Serve trustee.” Haroon and Pauline discussed the challenges and benefits of involving young people as trustees, which gave the board the confidence to go ahead. Drawing on the advice shared by #iwill, Groundwork has now recruited two young trustees: Faiza Amin and Jack White. “Our young trustees have made a big impact,” says Stephanie. “They have helped to develop our new strategy, look at equality, diversity and inclusion, and establish how best to engage with our beneficiaries.”
“Now, faced with the pandemic and the climate and nature emergency, we need young social activists more than ever. If we share the power, we can all work together to lead a green recovery and get on top of the challenges that lie ahead.”


RSPB: Working in partnership with young people

#iwill came along at an opportune moment for the RSPB. We wanted to move away from seeing young people simply as an audience, and move towards being partners.Traditionally, our volunteers have been older white males involved in practical conservation activities. Now, we’re shifting that perspective within the organisation to encourage all employees to see young people as potential volunteers, which can include them acting as sounding boards and sharing ideas. To encourage this change, we’ve removed perceived barriers to involving volunteers under the age of 18 by reminding people that we have robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

We’re also focusing on seeing young people not just as beneficiaries, but as leaders in their own right. As a result, we’ve been working on changing the way we support young leaders to empower them and give them a stronger platform.
In this respect, the #iwill campaign has fed into internal changes that we were already planning. We’ve had a Youth Council for 23 years, but are now looking at threading young people throughout the organisation in a more meaningful way to give them a greater say in decision-making. During this process, #iwill has enabled us to learn from a variety of different environmental organisations, which has been invaluable. For example, Action for Conservation told us that ideally you need to have three young people on any decision-making board to avoid a tokenistic approach.
#iwill operates in a neutral space, which is one reason why it’s been so effective. We’d like to see more NGOs collaborating across the sector. Young people are leading the way here. They don’t care which organisation they’re working with; they’re fighting for nature. We need to be generous, share the movement and tackle the challenges together.

Emily Lomax, Youth Development Manager and Martyn Foster, Head of Education, Families and Youth

When #iwill4nature launched in 2019 alongside Defra’s Year of Green Action, it created a springboard for change.

As the #iwill campaign developed young people started sharing their passion for the environment, biodiversity and safeguarding our planet against the growing climate emergency. This was coupled with a push to change the existing status quo of a chronic lack of opportunity for young voices to be heard and insufficient diversity of young people being engaged. In response, #iwill campaign partners put the wheels in motion to collaborate on securing change across the environmental action themes

Action for Conservation were one of many organisations who signed up with #iwill4nature

Quote Author

Action for Conservation joined the #iwill4nature collective to amplify the voices of young people taking action across the UK and strengthen our relationships with partners in both the youth and environmental sectors. The campaign was a unique opportunity to work as a collective to develop best practice for engaging young people in environmental action and create opportunities for change on the ground. As a youth environmental action charity, we valued the opportunity to share our experiences with others, and the relationships we’ve developed have enabled a greater platform for the young people we work with to take action and shape the future of nature in the UK.

#iwill4nature has the potential to deliver long-term impact


Transform Our World

Transform Our World is a hub of curriculum-linked resources to help teachers to bring environmental action into the classroom. The hub provides opportunities for students to lead impactful projects that tackle the root causes of the climate breakdown and biodiversity loss.

Transform Our World
Scotland’s year of Coasts & Waters 2020

Scotland’s year of Coasts & Waters 2020 is a themed year to spotlight, celebrate and promote opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled coasts and waters and the ideal moment to launch #IWill4Nature in a Scottish context. In #IWill Week 2019, Scotland’s #IWill ambassadors brought together a range of environmental organisations for an event at Newhaven Harbour to formally launch #IWill4Nature in Scotland and encourage more environmental youth social action to take place moving forward.

As part of the YCW2020, YouthLink Scotland was awarded money from Scottish Government to manage a MicrO Local Area Grant. With a funding panel made up of #iwill Ambassadors and representatives from the Scottish Government, up to £2000 was distributed for youth work projects that support young people to explore the nature, history and culture of Scotland’s lochs, rivers, shorelines and waterways.

#IWill Ambassadors Abby Lang, Euan Tan and Yu-Lei Tan made a short film on Edinburgh’s water of Leith on the importance of young people’s voices during Scotland’s year of coasts and waters and beyond.

And there’s more to come. The environmental sector must give young people
the platform and the power to make a difference: our future depends on it.

COP26 comes at a key moment in the global transition to a zero carbon economy. As joint organisers of CO26 the UK Government has recognised the key leadership role that young people can play in delivering the aim of a clean and resilient recovery - which is at the heart of the plans to reach carbon net-zero.

Young People Leading Charge on Climate