Late last year, the Blagrave Trust published a report on Youth led change in the UK – Understanding the landscape and the opportunities.  The purpose was “To inform future strategy and future investment decisions, the Blagrave Trust is looking to understand better how it can effectively support young people to lead change … The Trust is looking to base decisions about the best role it can play around this on a deeper understanding of current practice and provision, as well as future opportunities, and also to ensure that it understands and manages any associated risks”.

The relevance of this to the environmental movement is obvious, particularly in relation to the role of young people in stimulating action to combat climate breakdown.  Here are a  couple of extracts:

“With established routes to social change in flux, the fitness for purpose of traditional change models is in question and so now is a good time to back new approaches that operate in more fluid and flexible ways and seek radical change by looking beyond specific policy and towards redistributing leadership and power. Picking up on these new approaches, young people are engaged in some of the most interesting and impactful social change, through new movements like the School Strikes for the Climate.”
“Whilst for NGOs, distributed leadership presents a challenge because it means ceding responsibility and control (which carries risk), young people naturally organise this way.  Decision making in youth led campaigns is typically both consensus-based and quick, as demonstrated by youth-led groups like March For Our Lives in the US [mobilising in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February 2018] and the UK School Climate Network [UKSCN, organising behind the school climate strikes], where decision making can be done almost instantly through a WhatsApp group.”
This theme of youth-led change also featured in a report for the Esmé Fairburn Trust: Climate Change and Social Change which features an interview with Jake Woodier of the UK Student Climate Network.  Here, its relevance to the role of young people in stimulating action to combat climate breakdown has centre stage.  Here are a couple of extracts from the report:
“Youth climate action has done much to wake the world up to the realities of climate change yet in 2018, the group organising the climate strikes in the UK had a budget of just a few thousand pounds. Funders spoke a lot about them but failed to actively support them.”
“Young people have a rich history of engaging with and embracing progressive causes to create societal change. Often driving campaigns and movements to move faster and push for more radical demands, youth participation injects a novel and specific type of energy not found elsewhere. When young people move into and lead in the way we’ve witnessed with the youth climate movement over the previous year, the entire political landscape shifts in a dramatic way that opens opportunities and drastically changes what is thought to be possible.”
Each of these reports, and some of the literature they cite, are useful reading for funders and for those seeking funding in relation to climate and ecological breakdown.