Last night I had the honour of launching the 2nd year of the 2050 Climate Group’s Young Leaders Development Programme at the ECCI in Edinburgh alongside Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP. To see a room filled with well over 100 young professionals from across Scotland and across various sectors was extremely exciting. The recruitment process this year was incredibly competitive with demand ever increasing, surely Scotland is in a very strong position moving forward with this kind of interest in a climate change leadership course.
My name is Richard Dryburgh, I’m lucky enough to be the new Chair of the 2050 Climate Group. This is a position I’ve held for around two weeks now so I’m still learning the ropes. I’ve recently been passed the baton from Elizabeth Dirth and vice chairs Mike and Chris, who have done an amazing job over the last year or so.
So who are the 2050 Climate Group?
For those who don’t know, we formed in 2014 and are a group of young professionals and students from across Scotland’s public, private and third sectors. Our aim is to engage, educate and empower future leaders to take action on climate change. We have a board of around 25 and recently took on 40 new operational team members to help us deliver our work. I should stress that we are all volunteers, we have one member of staff who keeps us all in check, but we are all working on this is because we care and all work is done in our own time.
Our main piece of work is our Young Leaders Development Programme (YLDP). Bringing talented and passionate young people together to work on their leadership skills whilst developing knowledge of climate change solutions – this enables a strong network of 2050 leaders across Scottish society that mainstreams climate action within our generation and indeed all generations. Alongside our YLDP, we also have a team working on keeping our alumni engaged and connected. The idea being here that in 4 or 5 years time we will have a network of over 500 2050 Graduates who can all work together and speak up for climate action within their own spheres of influence. We also have a policy team which feeds into national and international policy to give a voice to our network and to our generation. Finally, we have a communications team who help keep all of us connected, but also share our work externally. So there is lots going on!
The reason why we are all here doing this? Climate Change.
Climate Change is a huge global issue which often seems impossible to tackle, impossible to conceptualise and impossible to deal with. At the induction last night, I played this short video made by the UN and narrated by Morgan Freeman which outlines an alternative future for the planet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YQIaOldDU8 . I wanted to quickly touch on a few points raised at the end of the video which are particularly relevant.
- Beyond our doubts and differences, such a future does exist. We don’t know all the solutions to climate change, but we know a lot of them. This future will happen, it has to. By the year 2050, transformational change will have happened across Scotland and the world. Because it has to.
- We must stop getting stuck in the doom and gloom and instead turn towards the partnerships and solutions we need.
We must turn apathy into action. To do this, we need to stop debating the science and instead focus on debating the solutions. In terms of positive success stories, I’m not sure how many of you have seen the viral video by ATTN on Facebook? The one that shows Scotland leading the way on renewable energy. Although there is lots of bagpipes and Scottish stereotypes in the video, it shows Scottish leadership in a positive light and has clearly engaged a mass audience, with over 20 million views and 250,000 shares. If we focus on positive solutions and success stories such as this, we are moving in the right direction.
And the YLDP is certainly one of those success stories, large groups of young people from across society, getting together on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings to become climate leaders. The potential of this group really has no ceiling and I hope this year’s young leaders will be able to look back at this opportunity in a few years time and say I was there at the beginning of that movement.
We are lucky in Scotland to have politicians who have given climate action a high priority across all parties. But we still need to speak up and give a voice to our generation. It is incredibly important that climate change, as an issue that will largely affect our generation, is worked on with solutions and politics that are inclusive of our generation.
There is a lot of people on our side, not least our partners. Young Scot and ECCI continue to support us as do Scottish Water, ScottishPower Foundation, SEPA & The Scottish Government.
Without them we simply wouldn’t be able to function, so we are tremendously grateful.