The world’s climate is changing at an unprecedented rate. From reduced ice cover, to warmer rivers, to altered marine biological systems - we’re living with signs of what could be to come. While people of all ages will feel the impact, it is ultimately future generations who will have to bear the brunt.
Children and young people are often portrayed simply as the victims of disasters and climate change. However, when given the opportunity, they can play a pivotal role in helping us to respond - working on successful mitigation and adaptation strategies. Unfortunately, their views are rarely listened to.
This has to change. My job at Plan UK focuses on working with other young people to build their skills and confidence to take action in their communities and speak up about the issues that concern them. We want to make sure the European Parliament starts listening to our voices and that decision makers transform the way they deal with our environment.
Hundreds of young people have helped us launch a declaration – calling for MEPs to take their views seriously. The document demands that decision makers engage directly and meaningful with young people and that sustainability be included in the school curriculum. If half or more of the 754 MEPs sign up, the EU will be required to push for better engagement of young people. MEP for London Jean Lambert is backing the campaign as she recognises that “Many young people feel powerless to change the world and they switch off from important global issues.”
We’re determined to make this change happen as we know the difference young people can make. The declaration is the culmination of a three year international project called Make the Link: Climate exChange, led by Plan UK and the Citizenship Foundation.
We have been working with young people across the UK – and connecting them with teenagers and children in Senegal, Malawi, Kenya, the Netherlands and Bulgaria. These young people have made real differences to their communities – from projects as practical as making greenhouses out of discarded bottles, to tackling major structural issues, such as why girls in many countries are not taught survival techniques for emergencies, like swimming and climbing. Sharing these experiences on a national and global level has inspired concrete change and greater understanding.
Young people need to start taking ownership of their future and holding decision-makers and governments to account. No one else is going to do it for them. I am urging everyone to tweet, facebook or write to their MEP to ask them to sign our declaration.
As Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, told me, “Including young people in the decision-making process is not just ‘good practice’, it is absolute necessity, particularly in addressing one of the greatest challenges we face: climate change.”
Get involved at our website http://www.mtl-cec.org/youthvoice
TAKE ACTION: You can ensure youth voice in the EU becomes a reality by
- Contacting your MEPs by letter and urge them to sign the declaration
- Tweet your MEP #YouthVoiceEU. Find your MEP on twitter here and use our sample tweets –
- @____ you’re my MEP and I think you should listen to my views on climate change #YouthVoiceEU
- @____ show you’re committed to consulting young people on climate change issues sign #YouthVoiceEU www.mtl-cec.org/youthvoiceeu
- @____ working with young people leads to better decision making on climate change www.mtl-cec.org/youthvoiceeu #YouthVoiceEU
- Find your MEP and contact them on Facebook and encourage them to sign the declaration by the 19th of November!
- Upload a campaign twibbon and spread the word about Youth Voice in the EU
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