Tag: climate strike

Where’s the talent?

16th Oct 19 by Dan Woolley, Head of Pilot Programmes

Organisations working for a sustainable future have a responsibility to take the lead.

Of all the many lazy accusations levelled at young people, the last few months have exposed one of the least fair, and most enduring: that they’re disengaged and apathetic.

Young people – children, teenagers and young adults – have caught the adults of the climate and sustainability world by surprise with the tidal wave of action, passion and change that they have unleashed over the past year. Whether it’s a 13 year old taking their first Friday off school to strike for the climate, to the young woman I witnessed last Monday padlocking herself to some scaffolding in the rain to stop the police dismantling Extinction Rebellion’s Trafalgar Square protest. Thousands of young people have found their voice – or perhaps we’re learning to listen.

Yet despite all this activity, a young person who decides that they want to turn their passion and concern for our planet into a career faces a difficult path, especially if they don’t have a degree or come from a working class, black or ethnic minority background, or any community which is faces discrimination and barriers to entering the job market.

This is a sad irony, because right now, the environmental movement needs every voice – we need the voices of all ages and all backgrounds to face the crisis that is brewing, and the many different kinds of thinking and action that will be needed to overcome it, and to overcome it in a way which is just and doesn’t just replicate the injustices and discrimination of the past.

That’s why today, on World Food Day, we’re launching a new project called Eco Talent.

Through Eco Talent, we will be working with talented young people who are passionate about the environment and want to make a difference, but currently feel that working in the environmental sector is inaccessible to them because of their background or life experiences. Simultaneously, we are forming partnerships with host organisations who wish to benefit from the energy, enthusiasm and talent that young people can bring, and from the new voices and fresh perspectives they offer. And because so often the obvious route into the environmental sector is through unpaid volunteering which is inaccessible to most young people, we are connecting these young people and organisations through creating a range of quality internships to be paid at the Living Wage.

Internships will have either a practical or campaigning focus. Practical placements will include host organisations such as community kitchens, farms, and other growing projects – an opportunity to learn about the food system and its effect on the environment as well as the practical skills of how to provide the food of and for the future. Campaigning placements will work with campaigning organisations to push for changes in the food system which will secure sustainable food production for now and future generations.

We recognise that Eco Talent is limited in the number of young people and organisations who can directly take part in, and benefit from, the project. But our long-term vision goes beyond the immediate participants: through demonstrating alternative and fairer approaches to recruitment, and through evidencing the effectiveness of a more diverse workforce in the professional environmental sector, we hope to inspire widespread change – a change that is at once necessary, long overdue and essential in the fight against climate change.

You can find out more about Eco Talent here.


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Cynicism isn’t wisdom

17th Sep 19 by Christina O'Sullivan

How the youth climate strikes movement helps me hold on to hope in the face of climate catastrophe

Working at an environmental campaigning group can be hard, sometimes it feels like me and my colleagues take turns having an existential crisis about the state of the planet. I have joked with friends about how we should train for the upcoming climate apocalypse and exclaimed that I call it the ‘Apocalypso’ as it is more palatable if it sounds like a retro ice-cream. When I find myself feeling very bleak about the future I remind myself of a piece of graffiti I walked past years ago – it simply read ‘Cynicism isn’t wisdom’. The Youth Climate Strike movement has brought this sentiment to life.

The older I get, the more I feel cynicism seeping into me – despite clear scientific evidence action on climate change is nowhere near good enough. The findings of the latest IPCC report are clear and the situation grave. To meet the commitment to a warming limit of 1.5°C made under the Paris Climate Agreement, widespread, deep ranging and radical transformation is required. The youth climate strikes remind me of the power of the collective, our capitalist society convinces us we only have agency in our individuality (buy this reusable water bottle and hemp tote bag and YOU can make a difference), moreover it is all too easy to fall into the ‘what can one person do’ trap. When we believe we are just one person with limited power that’s when we lose all power. The strikes remind me to stop thinking of myself as an individual and remember that we are a movement. We have agency beyond what we can buy (ethical consumerism will not save the planet), we have our time, we have our labour and we have our voices. The strikes also remind me of a time when I believed so much was possible – maybe we need that belief now more than ever. To avert climate catastrophe we need to essentially change the world in a multitude of ways – that is going to take a lot of imagination. We need to go beyond what society has told us is important, such as going to school, as a society that doesn’t respect the planet needs to have a few rules rewritten.

The strikes have also added joy and humour to the climate movement. A witty sign will not end climate change but it does more than a cynical tweet. They have reignited the urgency of the situation, climate change is happening now. The Amazon is on fire, those of us who are privileged enough to not yet be massively impacted by climate change can not allow ourselves to believe that just because it isn’t happening to us means it isn’t happening. It is tempting to wallow in despair, but those of us who have the capacity to contribute to a better future should do what we can, as the comedian Josie Long reminds me ‘Despair is a luxury’.

Rethinking hope

In a recent piece, the author Jonathan Franzen essentially declares that it is all over and states we need to ‘rethink what it means to have hope’. For me, hope lies in the realisation that we are better than capitalist greed believes us to be. It lies in accepting that nothing we do may ever be enough but we should still do something. It lies in a witty sign that makes me smile.

As Beckett wrote;  ‘You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’ Even though it may be too late, I’ll go on. Will you join me?

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