Youth Council attends Conservative Party Conference 2021

Youth Council attends Conservative Party Conference 2021

On 5 October 2021, four members of our Youth Council attended the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester as part of the National Youth Agency's goal to have young people represented in politics.

The day's theme was Climate. Not only did Youth Council members Emma, Rhiannon, Hannah, and Daniel get to interact with MPs, but they also met with The Wildlife Trusts CEO Craig Bennett.

The day was jam-packed as the Youth Council attended the following panels:

  • Conservative Environment: Network & The Wildlife Trusts - Separating fact from fiction: what does rewilding actually mean?
  • Conservative Environment: Network & EDF - Leaving nobody behind on the way to net-zero.
  • Design Council and Net Zero APPG: Building Net Zero Cities and Places By 2050 – or sooner.
  • Learn by Design: Engineering our Future: meeting the climate change.
  • Net Zero APPG: – Reaching Generation Zero.

All four Youth Council members took something different away from the day.

Youth Council members sitting in a seminar at the Conservative Party Conference and smiling

Emma, 17, offered her comments on the importance of political collaboration.

"It was an amazing experience to attend the Conservative Party Conference and help bring along some youth/ conservation voices. Getting to listen and speak to ministers, such as Alok Sharma who is coordinating COP26, offered us a unique insight into what is being planned for COP26 and how we can best engage with it. It gave me a new perspective on how valuable cross-partisan, government-wide collaboration is; with politicians such as Andy Burnham attending the conference as well as Conservative Party members."

Rhiannon,23, found the most valuable aspect of the day was listening to the panel discussions on nature.

“During the day, I found the panel on ‘What does rewilding actually mean?’ very interesting and loved that it was a mix of politicians and conservationists/environmental charities. It was amazing to hear from Isabella Tree on the success of the Knepp Wilding project and hopefully other projects in the future. And it was great to hear the positive support from Rebecca Pow (Minister for the Environment) on the future of a wilder Britain which left me feeling hopeful!”

Daniel, 23, valued the opportunity to hear more on legislation.

“It was great hearing how important the climate and sustainability crisis was to many people there and learning more about future legislation with the Environment Bill such as Wildbelts.

Hannah, 14, commented on the importance of the opportunity to observe high-level political events.

“We heard Alok Sharma (who will be running COP26) speak on a panel about the upcoming COP in Glasgow and the preparations. It was a very new experience but it was a great experience to see how politics works at a high level.”

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust Youth Council sitting along a white table opposite The Wildlife Trusts CEO, Craig Bennett

The Youth Council also met with Craig Bennett and Elliot Chapman-Jones (Head of Public Affairs at The Wildlife Trusts) to discuss the work they have undertaken with us this year. They discussed how youth voices can be propelled across all Wildlife Trusts and how young people should be heard at COP26.

“It was great that we were able to have a meeting with Craig Bennett," said Daniel. "We were able to talk about what we do as the Youth Council, the importance of youth in The Wildlife Trusts, and more about COP. It was good that we had our voices heard at this event, and our opinions were welcomed and counted."

Rhiannon added:

“I had a great experience at the 2021 Conservative Party Conference and really valued the opportunity to speak to Craig Bennett (CEO of The Wildlife Trusts) about the work the Lancashire Wildlife Trust Youth Council has been doing. We also spoke to him about the future of creating more Youth Councils within the UK across different constituencies and hopefully creating a possible Youth position on the board meetings, which would allow more young people's voices and opinions to be heard on environmental issues."

On the subject of having young people represented at events like the Conservative Party Conference, Rhiannon commented:

"Having the opportunity to listen to Alok Sharma (President of COP26) was inspiring as they covered the importance of youth presence in the plans for climate change solutions. It was great to hear, as we were definitely the youngest people in the room and it was great that he acknowledged the power we have in helping to make change.”

Emma added:

“Attending the conference gave me hope in the increasingly important focus that the climate crisis is getting, however, we as the public still need to continue our role in pushing for impactful government action.”

Hannah, Emma, Daniel, and Rhiannon would like to thank Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the National Youth Agency, especially Lydia Allen, for planning this day and giving them the opportunity to see these environmental issues discussed first-hand.

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