Empowering Youth Climate Action: The 2nd Perth and Kinross Youth Climate Conference
PKC Youth Climate Conference
Climate change is a global issue that affects us all, but its impact is particularly felt by the young generation. On the 25th October, we had the privilege of hosting our second annual Youth Climate Conference for secondary schools, a platform dedicated to raising awareness, fostering understanding, and inspiring climate action among our youth. With 80 pupils from 9 different schools in attendance, the event was a testament to the enthusiasm and determination of the next generation to combat climate change.
The conference allowed young people to gather to listen to presentations, ask questions, and actively participate in workshops aimed at deepening their understanding of climate change. It was an opportunity for them to engage with experts, share their concerns, and explore avenues for effective climate action.
Youth Concerns on Climate Change
One of the highlights of the event was the creation of word clouds by the participating students. The word clouds provided valuable insights into the minds of our young participants, revealing their deep concern for the environment and their determination to take action.
A recent report from VotesforSchools and the UK Committee for UNICEF highlights the significance of events like these. The report shows that 9 in 10 young people are worried about climate change. An overwhelming 89% of young people expressed that they don't believe enough is being done to tackle the climate crisis. Moreover, 81% feel that their voices are not being heard.
This is precisely why we organised this event. We wanted to let young people know about the work being done for the climate and nature crises across the council area. We also wanted to listen to their thoughts and ideas on taking forward climate action and actively empower them to take action.
The day commenced with an inspiring speech from young climate activist Less Waste Laura, who shared her journey to ban single-use disposable vapes. Laura emphasized we all have the power to advocate for systemic changes and make our voices heard. By standing up, speaking out, and collaborating with others, young people can shape a better, more sustainable future for all. So, take action and be the change you want to see in the world.
The Youth members of the Perth and Kinross Climate Change Commission also spoke on the work of the climate commission and encouraged other young people to get involved. Established with the aim of addressing climate change and ecological challenges, this commission serves as a platform for collaborative efforts, providing an opportunity for young people to get involved and make a real impact locally.
Sustrans, an organisation advocating for sustainable travel, shared invaluable insights into the benefits of active travel, the barriers that hinder its accessibility, and an inspiring project, #AndSheCycles, aimed at promoting young women's involvement in cycling.
Sustrans also launched the Big Walk and Wheel Competition. The competition is a call to action for schools to embrace active travel for two weeks in March – walking, cycling, and scooting to school. The competition encourages young people to choose these eco-friendly modes of transportation over motorized alternatives, reducing carbon emissions, easing traffic congestion, and promoting healthier, more active lifestyles. As part of this competition, the school that has the most pupils involved will win £500 to be invested back into the school for climate action projects.
Rewilding Denmarkfield shared their inspiring journey of local rewilding. Their passionate presentation showed the significance of rewilding, with the comeback of a variety of different habitats and species. They also shared their work with local schools to help rewild their school grounds. This helped offer young people inspiration for rewilding their own school grounds.
Following on from this we had a presentations from pupils from Breadalbane, discussing what they were doing to tackle climate change in their school. This included getting and designing reusable water bottles, offering a donation box at their ‘Food to Go’ to donate to SeaLife Trust, and hosting many events to raise funds for this charity aiming to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. Pupils also spoke on their meeting with Tayside Contracts, aimed at discussing issues such as; too much plastic packaging on snacks, too many plastic bottles being used and plated meals. For the plastic packaging on snacks, their school has decided to stop packaging snacks like biscuits, muffins, hot food etc., that don’t need to be packaged.
With a passion for combining style with environmental responsibility, Ruth Morris of Roobedoo, sustainable fashion brand, shared her insights on how sustainable fashion can be a powerful tool in combatting climate change through clothing. Ruth inspired the youth in attendance to consider the environmental impact of their clothing choices.
The presentation from Keep Scotland Beautiful outlined the various ways for young people to get involved in Eco-Schools and take meaningful actions against climate change. Eco-Schools not only instils a strong environmental ethos in students but also equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to take ownership of their climate action initiatives.
The Perth and Kinross Youth Climate Conference featured a diverse range of workshops designed to educate and engage young participants on critical climate-related topics. Here's a summary of the workshops held during the conference:
PKC Climate Change Workshop - Participants had the opportunity to delve into the council's climate change action plan, gaining insights into how local authorities are addressing climate issues. They also actively participated in a prioritization exercise, highlighting youth priority for action.
SSE Offshore Wind VR Workshop - In this workshop, pupils delved into the fascinating world of offshore wind energy through state-of-the-art VR software. They explored immersive visualizations of wind farm engineering aspects, gaining a deeper understanding of renewable energy technologies.
Keep Scotland Beautiful Workshop - This interactive workshop allowed participants to engage in activities focused on waste breakdown and calculating carbon footprints. It offered practical insights into waste reduction and the environmental impact of our daily choices.
PKC LDP Workshop - This workshop focused on open space strategies, providing participants with an understanding of how open spaces can be better managed for climate change mitigation and adaptation. It emphasized the importance of urban planning in creating more sustainable communities.
Rewilding Denmarkfield Workshop - This workshop highlighted the significance of creating wildlife corridors and making space for nature in urban areas. Participants learned how rewilding initiatives can help restore and protect biodiversity.
Sustrans Workshop - In an outdoor cycling experience, participants had the opportunity to try out adapted bikes. They also engaged in discussions on the barriers to active travel, emphasizing the importance of eco-friendly transportation.
PKCT/TBP Workshop - Participants gained insights into the diverse bird species in the region, their habitat needs, and the process of creating suitable birdboxes. Additionally, they learned how to craft apple birdfeeders, promoting wildlife conservation.
PKC Energy Workshop - This workshop stressed the importance of energy conservation and highlighted the significance of behavioural change in reducing energy consumption. Participants learned how their actions can contribute to a more sustainable energy future.
PKC Transport Workshop - This workshop provided information on the council's mobility strategy and advancements in sustainable travel technology. Participants explored how innovative transportation solutions can contribute to reducing emissions.
PKC Waste Workshop - This workshop delved into the challenges of waste management and recycling. It specifically focused on the new grey bins and the complexities of waste and recycling practices, highlighting the importance of responsible waste disposal.
These workshops collectively offered a comprehensive and interactive educational experience, equipping young people with the knowledge and skills to actively address climate change and contribute to a more sustainable future. The diversity of topics covered reflects the multifaceted approach needed to combat climate issues effectively.
The 2nd Youth Climate Conference was a resounding success, and it reinforced our commitment to supporting and empowering the voices of young people in the fight against climate change. It is evident that our youth are ready and willing to take action; they just need the guidance, knowledge, and opportunity to do so.
We have encouraged pupils to share what they have learned from the conference with the rest of the school and inspire others. There are a great deal of learning points and actions that can be taken following the conference. From rewilding school grounds, organising swap shops, taking action via eco schools, taking part in the big walk and wheel, and responding to the vape consultation. We are excited to see the incredible impact these young people will have on their schools and local communities.
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