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Youth In Nature Summit scales new heights in conservation collaboration

Youth In Nature Summit scales new heights in conservation collaboration

Hundreds of enthusiastic young people gathered at the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge recently to help shape the future of the UK conservation sector.

Following on from an inaugural summit in 2022, a second two-day event took place on 17 and 18 February which sought to bring together organisations, speakers and conservation charity leaders from across the environmental sector to be inspired by, and empower young people.

The whole event was organised, planned and delivered by a partnership of young volunteers from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the RSPB and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).  

As well as bringing passionate young advocates for nature together to share their own ideas and experiences, the summit served to encourage leaders in the conservation sector to think more inclusively about young people, how to bring them into their governance structures and create more opportunities for meaningful engagement. The summit showcased the work of inspirational young volunteers, and also highlighted some of the challenges and barriers that young people face when engaging with conservation and nature.

Speakers at the event included TV presenter and zoologist Megan McCubbin, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link Richard Benwell and Youth Engagement Officer from Butterfly Conservation, Emma Dakin. Key figures from the major conservation charities were also involved in facilitating sessions and workshops aimed at empowering youth-led change in the sector.

BTO, RSPB and WWF have taken leading roles within the conservation sector in creating a diverse and engaged network of young people who will become tomorrow’s leaders. As the conservationists and policy makers of the future, young nature enthusiasts know that collaboration is fundamental to success and the summit provided an energetic platform for passionate, environmentally aware young people from a wide range of backgrounds to come together, build lasting connections and to have their voices heard.

Professor Juliet Vickey, BTO Chief Executive, said: “At the 2022 summit leaders were challenged to act beyond organisational boundaries. The three-way collaboration to deliver the second summit is a sign we listened and acted. The youth voice is ambitious for nature, because that is what nature needs. It’s a voice full of energy and new ideas and it’s getting louder all the time – BTO is determined to hear it!”

She added: “The energy, optimism and determination of the second Youth in Nature Summit was simply extraordinary. It was a huge privilege to be part of it, to see young people connect through a love of nature and leave with new insights, skills and friendship – confident that they really can make a difference for the world they will inherit”.

Freddie Emms, 17, member of the RSPB’s Youth Council, said: “The Youth in Nature Summit brought together young people and leaders from across the conservation sector into one room with some phenomenal speakers to foster a tangible atmosphere of shared passion, determination and hope. We inspired collaboration and empowerment in what was an uplifting and hopeful weekend, and hope that the common ground we discovered will ultimately enable us all to come together to achieve some fantastic change in the very near future.”

Beccy Speight, RSPB Chief Executive, said: “It was incredibly inspiring to see the passion these young people have for nature and their desire to change things for the better. It is crucial they are given a platform for their voices to be properly heard and that they are at the heart of efforts to tackle the nature and climate crisis. Only by everyone working together can we deliver the change that nature needs.”