On the 5th March, in arguably the most elaborate diversion from my university work yet, I found myself taking a train from York to London and queueing up outside the Houses of Parliament. But this wasn’t just a journey to get the most touristy shot of London imaginable. I was attending an Our Bright Future parliamentary reception: a two-hour celebratory event for all members and partners of the national youth wildlife volunteering scheme to meet with local MPs to discuss environmental action.
Over 40 MPs met with young volunteers involved in the Our Bright Future programme in Parliament; and pledged support for ensuring that more school time is spent learning in and about nature. At the event, MPs heard from some of the inspiring young volunteers on the key changes they want to see for the environment and their lives, including ensuring schools have at least one hour per day of lesson time outdoors.
The reception was a great chance to hear what students and professionals across the country are doing to tackle climate change. Everyone I met was enthusiastic, passionate about taking action, and eager to network with like-minded young people. After I tore myself away from the table of free scones and tea (networking doesn’t get more British than this) and stopped announcing to everyone that I ‘can’t believe I’m literally in Parliament’ I had a chance to hear talks from Dara McAnulty (a 13-year old spokesperson for environmental action), and Amelia Fawcett on the importance of young people taking initiative on green issues.
Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts said:
“Our Bright Future is working with young people across the UK fuelling the creativity and resilience they need to lead environmental and social change. Our Governments will be failing this generation if they do not listen and support them to create a brighter future”.
With the recent YouthStrike4Climate protests, university divestment campaigns, and Extinction Rebellion groups gathering momentum across the country, this event was a timely reminder that increasingly, young people are speaking up about the future they want to see for the planet. Of course, this is not news – Wild itself is built on students passionate for the environment – but over the last few months this fact has seeped into the newspaper headlines and into the forefront of the minds of company executives, government officials and the general public.
This interest in hearing what young people have to say about the environment was what brought everyone together at the Our Bright Future parliamentary reception, even including visits from Caroline Lucas MP and Nicky Morgan MP. It was inspiring and, dare I say it, heartwarming to see students being listened to and, in times where the news can evoke overwhelming pessimism, a glimpse of hope into a brighter future.
Cass is the editor of WILD Magazine and many other wonderful things besides. Photo credits to Our Bright Future.