There is an urgent need to build meaningful relationships with young people in the climate action space.
The NSW team prefaced their pitch by highlighting their personal experiences of the effects of climate change, including what it was like to live through the aftermath of the Black Summer Bushfires. Issues raised included the rise in respiratory complications, infrastructure damage and the record-high temperatures which were particularly difficult to deal with for the following reasons:
- Lack of green open spaces in the community limiting their opportunities to be outdoors
- Lack of facilities such as air conditioning in classrooms
- No access to beach or pools in Western Sydney
They called out the inadequate action from decision makers even when faced with not only clear warnings from environmental experts but also when offered solutions that would help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Moreover, they expressed their frustration about the lack of support to grassroots environmental organisations who are willing to implement climate actions within their communities.
- Find practical ways for meaningful and purposeful engagement with First Nations people, utilising their environmental knowledge, conservation experience, and ways of caring for country.
- Embed a concrete plan to ensure that First Nations voices play a fundamental role in all stages of the climate change decision-making process.
- Decision makers must be more attentive and receptive to the advice and warnings of climate scientists and be more proactive in designing climate change policies.
- Allocate additional resources to grassroots climate change programs for increased capacity and better delivery, as well as legitimising their efforts and allowing them to be strategically included in climate action at a national level.
- Create a climate change taskforce with the capacity to coordinate and oversee the provision of assistance to the people on the ground. This will help accelerate their work and expand their reach.
- Embed more rigid policies that address climate change at a systematic and institutional level and limit reliance on volunteer action from businesses and consumers.
- Commit to follow up meetings to create timelines for action plans proposed by youth-led groups.