Several people from the local area joined in Dorset's first youth climate conference which brought participants ranging from 10-25 years old together with Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset, as well as councillors from both Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.
You can see the write up in the Dorset Echo here: https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/20204702.young-people-dorset-say-climate-change/
Will Austen of Fontmell Magna was one of the coordinators and sent us this report:
On the 7th of June, the Youth Group of the Dorset Climate Action Network (DorsetCAN) hosted their first Youth Climate Conference. In attendance, over Zoom, were local young people from schools including Port Regis and St. Mary’s Marnhull along with councillors from Dorset and BCP councils. Headed by Maya Turner and Will Austen, two members of the Youth Committee at DorsetCAN, the objectives of the conference were threefold: to educate one another on the current state of climate change, to discuss existing local initiatives in place to address climate change, and to consider further progress that can be made in local climate policy to mitigate the environmental impacts of our consumption and broader activity.
As a new arm of DorsetCAN, the Youth Conference began with Maya Turner introducing the core values of the Youth Group: Educate, Inspire, and Unite. All those in attendance recognised the importance of collective action in addressing such a serious issue as climate change, and so establishing a sense of collective responsibility from the outset created a strong foundation from which further ideas could be discussed. Then, engaging the young people in attendance through a series of multiple choice questions, members of the conference were given an indication of the overarching sentiment towards climate change. The results revealed that as a collective, we feel that climate change is deeply worrying issue and that policies in place to address it lack a sense of urgency necessary to drive real change. Next, Will Austen provided the group with an overview of the existing state of climate change, alongside existing attempts at the international level to gain consensus on the best action to take to reduce it.
Focusing in on the climate emergency in Dorset county, Maya outlined the Climate Action Plans of Dorset and BCP councils, recognising that they have made huge strides in addressing their own carbon footprints, but suggesting that not enough focus has been placed on encouraging non-council members of the county to do the same. A group activity titled ‘If I were an MP for a day’ gave attendees an opportunity to reflect on current climate policy and consider what more they feel can be done. The results of this exercise highlighted addressing fossil fuel based transport in Dorset as a major concern, and revealed an overwhelming desire to include local businesses in climate policy, so that the progress achieved is socially and economically inclusive.
Finally, discussion was opened to the floor. Some fantastic questions were asked about environmental issues, ranging from use of commercial pesticides to provision of plastic packaging in local supermarkets. Finally, discussion moved towards successful but lesser known sustainable initiatives, which leveraged the unity of the group in increasing exposure to and education on these important measures. All in all, the conference was a huge success and, in the days following, I felt positive that so many like minded people placed equal importance on the climate issue. However, it also highlighted that not enough is being done, and that this is the start of a tough journey that will require more widespread engagement if we are to come together and deliver on plans to tackle this issue effectively.
Will suggests that anyone looking to join should email Dorsetcan@gmail.com