The global youth environmental movement is rapidly gaining momentum. #YouthStrikeforClimate has already mobilised over one million young people across the world to demand that decision makers act to drastically reduce our carbon emissions. Social action has also been undertaken by former Raleigh International volunteers. Through national society campaigns like #50MillionTrees in Tanzania and #SinPlastico in Nicaragua, former Raleigh volunteers have mobilised their peers, influenced decision makers and galvanised communities to promote, implement and adopt positive environmental policies and behaviours. Despite these successes, we know this isn’t enough.
Those in charge do not want to engage youth as part of the solution. At Raleigh, we are committed to championing the voices of young people across the world. This year we are stepping up our action to help young people who are leading the fight against climate change. Over the last nine months, teams of young people in Tanzania, Nepal and Nicaragua have been working together to better understand the impact that climate change and environmental degradation is already having on the lives of young people in rural communities. What they have found is a stark reminder of why we must act now to protect those who will lose most from a changing climate.
In Nepal’s Gorkha district, increasingly irregular rainfall in the winter months is having a devastating impact on the ability of young rural farmers to produce their own food and gain a sustainable income. Consequently, young people are leaving their homes in search of job opportunities in cities or abroad which are often unsustainable, irregular and poorly paid.
In Tanzania, many young people have to rely on environmentally damaging work to make a living. Unsustainable farming practices and the clearing of wood for use as timber or charcoal is perpetuating a loss of over 3000 square kilometres (that’s almost the size of 750,000 football pitches) of forest every year. More needs to be done to improve green employment and enterprise opportunities for young people.
Despite these challenges, young people are ready to take action. In Nepal, Nicaragua and Tanzania former Raleigh volunteers have designed campaigns which will begin to address some of these issues; changing behaviours and creating new opportunities. Raleigh will continue supporting these inspiring young people with new programmes and initiatives, increasing their momentum, giving them new skills and increasing their ability to collaborate with each other. Together we are putting young people at the heart of driving environmental change that lasts and building a global movement of volunteers who committed to making the world a greener and fairer place.
It’s Raleigh’s volunteers in the UK that we now want to bring into the conversation. We want the voices of our volunteers to be at the centre of Raleigh’s UK campaign action on climate change. So we’re asking you: what is it you want to say?
You might want a greater commitment on reducing carbon emissions; a strong environmental bill or a bigger focus on how climate and environmental issues are talked about in schools, universities and beyond. Whatever it is that matters the most to you, Raleigh want to hear it. We want you to set the agenda. We want you to draw on your experience volunteering to make a different to what matters to you.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be engaging with UK volunteers via our social media channels to find out what matters to you the most on the environment. Your voices will shape the direction we take so we can create opportunities which support you in your actions.
One way we’re beginning this is by supporting the UK Climate Coalition. On June 26th the UK Climate Coalition will help thousands of people from across the UK push for bold climate action in a mass lobby of the UK parliament. We want the voices of our former volunteers to be at the heart of this event.
Raleigh stand with young people across the world who are making change happen right now. For over 30 years we have been inspired by the idealism, passion, creativity and bravery of young people to create solutions and act as role models to us all. You are our most valued partners. The world needs you now more than ever, and we’re right behind you.