The climate emergency has inspired youth-led activism across the world. Greta Thunberg’s protest outside the Swedish Parliament in 2018 was the catalyst for a global youth movement, demanding urgent action.
Across the globe, young people have been at the forefront of campaigns and political protest on climate justice.
In April 2019, Extinction Rebellion began to galvanise support in the UK, before turning into a global movement, denouncing inaction and inertia on the part of governments and the powerful. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the limitations of inaction in the face of global threats.
This four-part virtual conference explores how young people think about environmentalism, stewardship of the natural world, grassroots activism, and the limitations or possibilities of representative democracy and international collaboration with regard to the future of our planet.
We discuss the challenges and opportunities of transnational political action, and examine how young people imagine a future in which humanity’s impact on the planet will be less destructive.
This is a free event, supported by our charitable funds. Young people from a broad spectrum of schools, universities, organisations and backgrounds are being invited to collaborate with policymakers and civil servants, charity representatives, activists, community practitioners and academics.
Convened on Zoom to maximise participation, this virtual conference provides a platform for young people to express their views, visions and expectations ahead of the 2021 Pre-COP26 in Milan, Italy and the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26).
If you would like to join our waiting list, please make an enquiry using the button at the top of this webpage, or email Emily Gow, our Programme Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please outline why you feel you would make a positive contribution to the conference discussions. You will also need to confirm that you will be able to commit to participating in all four online sessions in March 2021.
Participants will have the opportunity to contribute to an intergenerational Cumberland Lodge Report, capturing youth perspectives and providing a clear steer for policymakers and leaders on youth priorities for climate futures. We will also be recording a series of short, youth-led podcasts, reflecting on each conference session.
Our aim is to facilitate powerful intergenerational dialogue on young people's priorities for climate futures, with input from leaders, change-makers and influencers, from a range of different sectors and personal backgrounds.
William Finnegan has been commissioned as a freelance Research Associate to support this work. He has prepared a briefing document ahead of our virtual conference series to summarise existing research and ideas and identify scope for further enquiry.
William will also be producing our summary report, Climate Futures: Youth Perspectives, to present key ideas from the conference discussions and a series of practical recommendations for policymakers, influencers and practitioners.
A draft version of our report will be reviewed and refined over a virtual consultation at Cumberland Lodge, involving conference delegates and further experts in the field, before being published and distributed widely in time for Pre-COP in September 2021 and COP26, which is now scheduled to take place in November 2021.
Virtual conference programme
This virtual conference takes places over four sessions in March 2021, using Zoom as a platform for bringing people together face-to-face, from across the UK and around the world.
Participants will be required to attend all four sessions. Full details of the programme will be published for participants nearer the time.
Our speakers will help to frame and kickstart our conversations, but all participants will be encouraged to play an active part in the open discussions and small-group breakout sessions that follow.
SESSION 1: Education for Sustainability - Tuesday 9 March 2021, 4.30-6.00pm
The future of the planet is at the forefront of the minds of many young people – but do school curricula reflect the urgency of the climate crisis? How can schools equip young people with the knowledge and skills to challenge inaction around them and live more sustainably? And how can teachers be supported to inform and guide young people on the right trajectory towards a greener future?
Guest speakers include:
- Meg Baker - Director of Education, Students Organising for Sustainability
- Professor Justin Dillon - Professor of Science and Environmental Education, University of Exeter
- Rev Lennox Yearwood Junior - President and Founder of Hip Hop Caucus.
SESSION 2: Green Business and Careers - Thursday 11 March 2021, 4.30-6.00pm
Responsible business has the potential to be a driving force behind environmental and social progress. Demand for environmental consultancy is already high, with businesses under pressure to seize low-carbon opportunities and meet competitive environmental targets.
This session explores how corporations respond to demands for greater environmental commitment and action, especially whilst dealing with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also share ideas on what young people can do at school, university, home and in the workplace, as they make decisions about their careers, to respond to climate change and accelerate transformative change in our economies.
Guest speakers include:
- Jouja Maamri - UK Delegate to the G7 Youth Summit and Director of Impact at Regenerative Creations
- Louise Stevens - Former Head of Circular Economy at innocent drinks and Co-founder & Director at stevens.earth Sustainability Consultancy
- Louise Quarrell - Chief Operating Officer at Avieco
SESSION 3: Adaptation and Eco-anxiety - Tuesday 16 March 2021, 4.30-6.00pm
We will continue to live through a changing climate, even if the Paris Agreement is successfully implemented and the world’s major economies adopt an effective ‘Green New Deal’ to safeguard the planet's future. Some commentators argue that we need to adapt to a completely new way of living and that the collapse of civilisation as we know it is inevitable.
Conversations about climate change need to go beyond climate change mitigation, to explore climate resilience and adaptation measures. In this session, we explore climate change in relation to ‘eco-anxiety' and look at how we can nurture our wellbeing whilst safeguarding the planet.
Guest speakers include:
- Rhinal Patel - Writer, Speaker, Counsellor and Charity Director
- Dr Lisa Schipper - Environmental Social Science Research Fellow, University of Oxford
- Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh - Environmental Psychologist, University of Bath
SESSION 4: Democracy and Activism - Thursday 18 March 2021, 4.30-6.00pm
The final session of this virtual conference explores the effectiveness of ordinary democratic processes in tackling the climate emergency.
We examine the role of street-level campaigning and activism in driving positive change in leadership, policymaking and citizen behaviour.
Guest speakers include:
- Camilla Born - Deputy Director of Strategy for COP26, UK Cabinet Office
- Katie Hodgetts - Campaigner, UK Youth Climate Coalition
- William Eccles - Co-Director, The Commitment
- Elibarick Simon - Environmental activist and youth champion, Raleigh International
Chatham House Rule
As is custom at Cumberland Lodge, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule, to facilitate a free and open flow of views and ideas between participants.
We encourage participants to share the ideas that emerge and post on social media about the conference, but without revealing who said what and when.