I am an environmentalist that grew up in the rural Highlands of Scotland, it was here that I fell in love with nature and the landscape which has driven me to work towards tackling climate change and environmental issues both locally and nationally as a young leader in the 2050 Climate Group.
Climate change presents us with a number of challenges to explore. When I was invited to participate in one of these challenges on behalf of the 2050 group naturally I jumped at the opportunity.
33Fifty is a leadership programme for young Commonwealth leaders aged between 18 and 25 that took place to coincide with the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The name comes from the fact that 33% of the world’s population lives in the Commonwealth, and 50% of those are under 25. Given that the world faces challenges that transcend national boundaries, 33Fifty aims to develop inspired and globally connected leaders. 33Fifty aims to develop young leaders to reconcile differences, lead change and use the Commonwealth’s networks effectively.
The challenge set for the young leaders at the event was: “What role does the youth of the Commonwealth need to play in progress toward low-carbon economies?”
When I heard about the event I knew that this was an unmissable opportunity to meet and discuss climate change solutions with young people from across the Commonwealth. I knew it would provide a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the social impacts of climate change and broaden my perspective. My role was to help coach and mentor the 33Fifty candidates and to help them develop their ideas further before pitching them to a Dragon’s Den style panel made up of business leaders from across Scotland. I was excited to hear innovative ideas from a diversity of people and I certainly was not disappointed.
I worked with 3 out of the ten groups in succession, the groups had 5 minutes to present their brief to me while I listened, questioned and offered constructive feedback in the session after. This was a two way street in terms of learning as I was picking up so many new perspectives from the candidates as well.
Some candidates had come from countries where people are being severely affected by climate change while others had come from some of the richest countries in the world and have had no first hand experiences with poverty. Despite these differences in background, culture and priorities it was inspiring to see how united the candidates were in one cause.
Public engagement seemed to be a recurring theme within the groups, candidates were keen to make the message one of positivity and change rather than threat. With support and guidance the groups explored how they would target communications to different age groups and how they could make their project something new and exciting. One group planned to make a network of representatives from each local authority area in Scotland helping to communicate messages between people from all areas. This would work on a national level, giving everyone a voice including those in remote places.
Something that really struck me about the whole experience was just how much drive there is out there within the younger generation and how this is reaching out to people all over the world. I look forward to seeing more initiatives like 33Fifty, giving people an opportunity to get together, speak up about climate issues and learn new skills. Programmes like this play a role in the ongoing cultural shift necessary to meet low carbon targets for Scotland and provide opportunities for young people to network, develop and progress in achieving their goals. Going forward the 2050 group will deliver similar projects and I would encourage anyone to get involved, whatever your background. Climate change is something that we can all relate to as one of the biggest challenges of our time but with it comes an opportunity for progress, team work and realising we can make an impact no matter how small or large.
I came away from my session feeling highly positive and mindful that we are not alone in fighting a battle to reduce emissions but instead we are part of a movement which is picking up pace both nationally and globally. We have a challenge ahead of us but if we all approach it with the positivity and drive that I witnessed from this experience and working with these young leaders then we will be well on our way to securing a safer, fairer and more environmentally aware society for all.
Post written by Jane Morrison, 2050 Climate Group