How can young people tackle climate change?

United: The FLN hopes to unite young people in their fight against climate change. Source: National Assembly For Wales (via Flickr)

by Sam Tilley

Young leaders of the future gathered at the Senedd last week to take part in a roundtable discussion promoting youth leadership over climate change. The event, run by the Future Leader’s Network, was sponsored by Jane Hutt AM, Deputy Minister for Wales, and was attended by the youngest member of the Welsh Assembly, Jack Sergeant AM.

The overarching message put forward by the FLN is that the present climate of leadership is both inept and unequipped and that the method to combat that revolves around training the new generation of leaders.

The speakers at the event included Beth Irving, one of the organisers of CardiffYouth4Climate; Cardiff University PhD researcher Sarah Becke; and Flavie Ioos, the Ethical and Environmental Officer at Cardiff University Students’ Union. The bulk of Ioos’ speech focused on how universities can tackle climate change and how activism is a key way of making higher education organisations change their positions on both climate change and renewable energy use.

The event was attended by an audience of almost 100, with the attendees being a mix of professionals and students. The delegates heard five keynote speeches before breaking off into smaller working groups to discuss the issues around how climate change is presented, how the next generation can educate those who came before and what styles of leadership are missing from today’s political and social climates.

When asked how he thought the event went, Matt Brown, who co-organised the evening’s event, said, “We’re really thrilled that so many young leaders came along tonight and not just came along, but also engaged with the topics on display” and that the next step for the organisation was to appoint a permanent Chairperson for FLN’s Welsh branch.

CEO of the Future Leader’s Network, Sophie Dowd, told Gair Rhydd that the FLN was set up to “bring young people from across the spectrum, across different disciplines, across different sectors” in order to solve the “really big intractable problems of our time”. Asked why the FLN believes that there is a future leadership problem across the UK, Dowd replied “the problems we’re facing are changing and I don’t think that the way that we’re thinking about leadership is and that is the biggest problem we face right now. We’re encountering global issues that will require action across multiple age ranges and across multiple different backgrounds. I don’t think that we have unity or methods about thinking about leadership that promote unity which is precisely what we want to do.”

Speaking to Gair Rhydd, Douglas Lewns, taking a Masters in Global Ecology and Conservation at Cardiff University and an attendant of the event said, “I think what I’ve learnt here is that number of people who are working across the climate challenge across the different sectors, especially more from the academic side. The real breadth of people working on this is what’s made an impression on me today.” When asked whether university students were put off by events and groups such as the FLN, Lewns replied “I don’t think university students are aware that this is marketed towards them such as this, which of course it is, and that also there’s a general reluctance amongst students to do things that are extracurricular and so it needs to be marketed in a way that appeals to them.”

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