30 people aged 11-23 recently came together to tackle issues around sustainable living and identifying ways to create positive environmental change.

The third annual Green Futures Youth Environment Summit took place at Malham Tarn Field Centre, following months of hard work and planning by a group of passionate young people from across the region, including young carers, environmental trainees, Young Rangers and eco-school committee members, all supported by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) and partners.

Kate Cartmell Done with juice carton wallet

Practical sessions, many delivered by the young peoplethemselves, included making hedgehog ramps and a bee hotel, orienteering, andcreating new useful products from items otherwise destined for landfill,including juice carton wallets and t-shirt bags.

Thanks to a session run by Campaign Bootcamp, the young peoplealso developed their confidence and campaigning skills, from planning,researching and organising a new campaign through to gaining support to createa lasting impact.

16-year-old Rosemary Kelly from Ravenstonedale said: “I really enjoyed the feeling of optimism that the whole weekend had. Since the summit I’ve changed my toothpaste brand to a more environmentally friendly one and have done further research into consumer products. The summits always give me more drive and encouragement that there is a point in all that we do for the environment.”

In his capacity as Chairman of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Carl Lis OBE attended the Summit for an environment-themed Question and Answer session, discussing the young people’s views on issues including transport, affordable housing, the environment and jobs for young people. This discussion sparked the exciting idea of potentially creating a permanent youth panel or forum to give local young people a voice in the National Park.

Green Futures Youth Environment Summit
Youth Summit discussions

The event was part of the Green Futures programme which aims to empower and support the ambitious and capable young people of Yorkshire and Lancashire to become more involved, aware and connected to the fantastic natural environment that’s right on their doorstep.

Led by YDMT, Green Futures brings together a partnership of local young people and organisations including Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Field Studies Council – Malham Tarn, BEES – Bradford Environmental Education Service (part of City of Bradford YMCA), Willow Young Carers Project (part of Barnardo’s Leeds) and Craven Development Education Centre.

Gail Smith, Green Futures Programme Manager at YDMT, said:“It’s a privilege to have the chance to support these fantastic young people who are so passionate and enthusiastic about environmental issues. The young people planned and delivered another inspirational Youth Environment Summit focussing on the issues most important to them, such as palm oil, local food and water. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved. One highlight for me was the Q&A with Carl Lis which highlighted the potential to develop a new youth panel in the National Park, which would be an amazing outcome and a wonderful legacy for the Green Futures programme. It all gives me hope for a brighter environmental future for all of us.”

Green Futures is part of Our Bright Future, a £33 million programme funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of seven organisations which is led by The Wildlife Trusts. Our Bright Future aims to tackle three big challenges facing society today – a lack of social cohesion, a lack of opportunities for young people and vulnerability to climate change.

Cath Hare, Our Bright Future Programme Manager, said: “The Youth Environment Summit is a brilliant opportunity for young people to take part in new activities that they wouldn’t usually get to experience. It’s exciting that so many of them are choosing to make small changes to their lifestyle to help the environment.” 

YDMT would love to hear from young people interested in being involved. A Youth Environment Forum meeting will take place in Settle in January 2019 – it’s a chance to meet like-minded young people who come together throughout the year to deliver practical action and develop campaign ideas, as well as helping to deliver the annual Youth Environment Summit. Contact or call 015242 51002 for more information.

It’s the perfect time to get involved, especially as the government have declared 2019 the year of green action in their 25 year plan for the environment, using #iwill hashtag to increase environmental action and engagement among 10 to 20 year olds.