Historically, in the eyes of some people, having any interest in ‘green’ issues or an environmental affinity would have been perceived as a niche field, outside of the mainstream. Those days have now quite rightly been consigned to the past.
The Year of Green Action 2019, developed by DEFRA, will promote the agenda of protecting our natural landscape and the wildlife that belong in these spaces.
The year will provide a focus for the national conversation, and will demonstrate how we can all take meaningful action to foster a healthier environment for younger and future generations.
I am a member of the #iwill campaign’s Environment Steering Group, where plans are taking shape on how to put young people front and centre, highlighting the importance of youth social action in promoting a greener UK.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Global Action Plan (GAP), an organisation which aims to provide solutions to the question of how the human population can live more sustainably. I attended their celebrations in London, where they invited a host of speakers to present on how GAP has, across the last 25 years, continued to champion the most pertinent challenges of the day. Speakers ranged from BAFTA to artistic presentations with Invisible Dust. I gained the impression that GAP is a shining example of bringing in youth voice to directly influence an organisation’s advocacy and messaging, when it comes to engaging with businesses. One of GAP’s Youth Panel remarked on how young people are ‘incredibly important to the planet’, in safeguarding its natural beauty and habitats for those who will inherit it.
To me personally, the scope of issues involved in environmental work form many of the areas I feel mostly strongly about. Some years ago, in Dorchester and across Dorset, I was a volunteer in a youth heritage project, which used innovations, like Geocaching, to tell the stories of our history, blending this with the physical spaces where these historically important events occurred. The new and refreshed interpretation of our local history was very satisfying, making it more interactive for explorers and open to a new audience who might feel disengaged with these stories otherwise. Combining that with the outdoor environment gave it a unique edge,
I have also considered how disability can impact our interactions with the natural world, making it feel distant and in accessible. Questions such as these, as well as wider debates – which have not yet been successfully resolved by decision makers – are where young people will be able provide answers.
Jack Welch, #iwill Young Advisor for the Environmental Steering Group, @MrJW18