Hundreds of young campaigners are working with a London MEP to transform the way Europe deals with climate change.
Green party member, Jean Lambert, is backing a special manifesto, written by teenagers and children from across Europe and Africa, to demand MEPs listen to their voices.
The move is the culmination of a three year international project - Make the Link: Climate exChange – backed by Plan UK and the Citizenship Foundation.
“Ultimately it is young people and future generations who will have to face the worst consequences of climate change – yet young people’s views are rarely listened to,” says campaigner Tehseen Mirza, 20, from Manchester. “This declaration is an opportunity for MEPs to show they are taking us seriously on this critical matter.”
Co-operation between policymakers and young people
The document demands that decision makers engage directly and meaningful with young people and that sustainability be embedded in school curricula. If at least half of the 754 MEPs sign up, the EU member states will be required to drive forward the terms of the text. “Many young people feel powerless to change the world and they switch off from important global issues,” says Jean Lambert.
“This is why we need to find new ways to engage with young people on climate change and to ensure that their voices are heard.”
The declaration comes as a new handbook is launched by Plan UK and the Citizenship Foundation to promote better cooperation between policy makers and young people.
The guide – Make the Link: Decision Makers, Young People and Climate exChange - lays out the importance of how and why to work with children and teenagers.
From starting a school project, to worldwide digital campaigns – the aim is to overcome the barriers to democracy that young people can face. “Including young people in the decision-making process is not just ‘good practice’; it is an absolute necessity, particularly in addressing one of the greatest challenges we face: climate change,” says Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action. “The way in which we deal with climate change now will have a decisive impact on the world that today’s young people and their children will inherit.”
Thanks to the support of five MEPs from the UK, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Romania and Finland the declaration will be presented to the European Parliament on the 19 November.
Young people are being asked to contact their MEPs by letter, Twitter and Facebook to encourage them to sign the declaration – before the three month expiry date Make the Link Climate exChange.