When faced with global challenges such as climate change, it is essential that everyone’s voice is heard and that collective action is taken now to increase our chances of creating a sustainable future. The 2050 Climate Group is a charity with this message at its heart. It aims to engage, educate and empower Scotland’s young people to take action against climate change. It is a youthrun and primarily volunteer-led organisation with a team of over 60 volunteers across Scotland.
The flagship initiative is the Young Leaders Development Programme (YLDP), a free educational course that runs over a year and consists of several events that aim to enhance climate change knowledge and leadership skills, focusing on personal, professional and political spheres of influence. The events consist of a range of activities, including presentations, workshops, panel discussions and debates, and are delivered by volunteers and expert external speakers. Participants in the programme also set actions to take on climate change and the 2050 Climate Group supports them to realise these ambitions. The charity’s programme is now approaching the end of its third year of delivering the programme and we have seen many inspiring actions achieved throughout this time across a variety of areas, from food to energy to transport.
One of the current Young Leaders, Kirstin McEwan, explains: “When I joined the YLDP, I hoped to learn more about how to get involved in climate action but the programme turned out to be broader than I ever thought, exploring so many ways that we can influence the status quo…
I’ve tackled topics on everything from the impact of diet to implementing sustainable workplace practices.”
What makes the group unique, she goes on to say, is that it isn’t an elite group of climate scientists or highly read environmental students. “The YLDP is open to people from all walks of life and, while there is a focus on youth, there is a cross-generational feel.
“A mix of backgrounds has also brought a wealth of diverse input from my fellow YLDP members and through workshops, group actions and speaker discussion sessions, I’ve explored points of view I would never have considered and tackled shortcomings in my own goals to live a more climate-friendly lifestyle.”
The latest event, based in Stirling, focused on climate change as a political issue. The session was held on the day following the Youth Strike for Climate event which highlighted that, now more than ever, young voices can have an impact. The day centred on how individuals can influence political processes and give voice to climate action in so many ways.
For Kirstin, the defining moment of the event was listening to Promise Matatiyo of Malawi’s Young Climate Leaders who was visiting Scotland as part of a 2050 Climate Group exchange. Promise stressed that as the task of tacking climate change got harder, the amount of cooperation required became greater. “We must support each other in order to survive, and if the 2050 Climate Group’s YLDP has shown me anything, it’s that Scotland’s young people need to lead in this process,” Kirstin continued.
Today’s young people are crucial to building a fairer, more sustainable future as they will become the decision makers of the future. The 2050 Climate Group will continue to work with Scotland’s young people to help them develop and ensure they are represented.
We will soon be accepting applications for volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35 to join the 2050 team.