Make a difference in climate change this International Youth Day


Author: Jamie Sims, communications officer at Hope for the Future

For young people today, the climate and nature crisis is a central issue - one which has drawn many of us into engagement with the democratic system. This can be seen in the rapid global spread of school climate strikes. My own engagement with collective political action was in large part sparked by getting involved in a campaign for divestment from fossil fuel investments as a student. Of course, there are good reasons for this surge of interest in environmentalism among younger generations. We all have an interest in a livable and healthy planet and want to see our natural environment protected and restored.

There is also an increasing recognition that solutions to environmental issues can and must also address social issues. This includes everything from tackling health problems linked to pollution and providing green spaces to providing secure, high-skilled jobs and reducing the cost of living. This year’s International Youth Day recognises these connections and the particular significance they have for younger people who will not only endure severe climate events longer as the crisis continues but also face significant economic challenges. For example, many face precarious employment and poor-quality housing. Retrofitting and improved energy efficiency standards are examples of policies which bring together solutions to these related problems - with the potential to provide good jobs while also driving down energy costs and improving quality of life.

The theme the United Nations for International Youth Day 2023 selected is ‘Green Skills for Youth: Towards A Sustainable World’. The idea is that green skills are vital to support a just transition to a greener world. These are defined broadly - including technical skills around the production and installation of renewables and energy efficiency measures, but also a wider ‘range of knowledge, values and attitudes to facilitate environmentally sustainable decisions in work and in life’. There is an urgent need for more green skills in the UK, and local government can play a vital role in scaling up the necessary education and training. For example, the retrofit skills shortage has been identified as a major obstacle to achieving net zero, with tens of thousands more retrofit builders, professionals, and coordinators needed to upgrade the UK’s ageing and energy-inefficient housing stock. Other local authorities should follow the lead of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which has launched a Retrofit Skills Hub to train over 1,000 people with the skills to ‘to ensure the city-regions homes and buildings are fit for a low-carbon future’. Schools can also play their part, especially in teaching the importance of sustainability, fostering new generations of environmentally-conscious young people.

To get councils and other local government bodies to act, young people need to be involved in the democratic process at a local level. We need to work with communities and politicians, building a strong local mandate for change. Hope for the Future are specialists in supporting and training people to engage effectively with politicians, working with constituents and campaign groups across the country on issues from tree planting to public transport. Approaching your local council may seem daunting for many people, but it doesn’t have to be - with the right advice and help, it can be a great way to make a difference in the climate.

The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.

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