The Defra Group is committed to encouraging more young people from all backgrounds to participate in social action. Fostering a sense of care and concern for, and a connection to, the natural world will be essential to delivering the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, as well as the goals and targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 made under the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is our hope that as people accept the need to pitch in and help the environment they will come to realise that they feel significantly better as a result.
- We know that encouraging young people to care for the natural world is important to its future and to their wellbeing. We have already invested in supporting third sector programmes aimed at increasing young people’s involvement in caring for the environment, including the ‘Student Survival’ pledges under WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, and the Bristol Natural History Consortium BioBlitz programme of discovering and recording local wildlife.
- Even now, we continue to support young people to experience, learn about, and care for nature, such as through Kew Garden’s ‘Grow Wild’ programme, the Forestry Commission’s ‘Active Forests’, and the Environment Agency’s junior angling support programme delivered by the Angling Trust. In the 2017 Litter Strategy for England we also committed to continue working with National Citizen Service, the Scout Association, Girlguiding, and others to make sure that young people’s participation in the Great British Spring Clean and other organised litter-picking activity is promoted and formally recognised in progress towards existing qualifications, awards and badges.
- As we begin working towards delivering the 25 Year Environment Plan, we will explore what more can be done to encourage participation by young people in environment-related social action, particularly those who live in disadvantaged areas, and how we can take into account the voice of young people in development of environmental policies that safeguard their future. We want our environment sector stakeholders and partners to be thinking about this too, and will be urging greater awareness and participation by the sector in the #iwill campaign.
- In addition, we will advocate for our own Defra Group employees to support youth social action when participating in corporate volunteering. This will include continuing to support staff who volunteer as ambassadors of our work in schools and colleges.