Today’s post is about the work of the CCC-Catapult project: Challenging the Climate Crisis: Children’s Agency to Tackle Policy Underpinned by Learning for Transformation which set out to examine how young people perceive and experience climate issues. It is published here with the permission of the authors. As ever with our blogs, the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Association.


To be a young person today is to face the prospect of an adulthood, which is shaped by environmental breakdown and climate emergency. The declarations of Climate Crisis and calls to action are widespread (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], 2021; UN Environment Programme, 2021; Harvey, 2021; Wu, Snell and Samji, 2020). Perhaps unsurprisingly, just last year, it was reported that many child psychiatrists in England are seeing children and young people becoming increasingly distressed about the climate crisis (Watts and Campbell, 2020). This year, in a study of 10,000 young people, it was found that over half of the young people surveyed were worried or extremely worried about the climate crisis (Hickman et al., 2021). The knowledge that young people are at the forefront of the climate emergency, both as the demographic who will be most greatly affected by climate change, and increasingly as activists for change, was central to the development of the Challenging the Climate Crisis: Children’s Agency to Tackle Policy Underpinned by Learning for Transformation ([CCC-Catapult], 2021). This project aims to examine how young people perceive and experience climate issues. The three-year international project, led by researchers in the University of the West of England, Bristol and with partners in Ireland, Finland and Italy, involves a survey of over 2,400 young people, as well as creative, narrative work with young people, teachers, and other key actors who shape their learning. The research findings will make a significant contribution to our understanding and appreciation of young people’s views and experiences, and will lead to policy-based recommendations and resource toolkits for developing climate education in different cultural settings. 

A critical and unique aspect of this project is that the research is being developing through the ‘eyes and ears’ of young people. What this means in practice is that young people from between the ages of 15-18 have been recruited in each national setting as co-producers of the project, forming four ‘Youth Action Partnership’ (YAP) groups. The decision to engage young people as co-producers stems from the understanding that it is not only essential that children and young people are given a voice in matters which affect them (as detailed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF, 1989), but that co-producing research with young people is a meaningful way to ensure any research outputs are genuinely relevant to communities of young people (Lundy, McEvoy, and Byrne, 2011; Pavarini et al. 2019). 

This article, which was written co-productively with YAP members in Bristol to introduce the CCC-Catapult project, has been produced in the early stages of the YAP process. Its intention is not to reflect on the experience as a completed process, but to consider how the early stages of this process have been navigated, and to voice from the outset of this project the intentions of both YAP members and researchers, as we collaboratively undertake, navigate and develop the emergent YAP experience. 

Forming YAPs

Recruitment for the YAP group in Bristol began in June 2021. Significant efforts were made to attract diverse group membership, and the researchers contacted community groups and organisations focusing on areas that do not traditionally attract young people into university-level research projects. However, connecting with 15-18 year olds across Bristol during the Covid-19 pandemic – a time when schools had to close and young people were coping with significant changes and trials (Rajmil et al., 2021) – proved a challenge; not being able to directly interact and speak with young people limited opportunities for meaningful engagement. It was with the help and enthusiasm of community organisations and schools across Bristol that researchers on the project team had the chance to engage with young people, and by August 2021, form a group of nine YAP members[1].  This core group will likely gain more members as the project engages diverse groups across Bristol.  YAP members are meeting monthly, either online or face-to-face in locations around Bristol such as The Arnolfini (2021) and Future Leap (2021). It is during these monthly meetings that YAP members are guiding, and will continue to help guide research activities, contributing to the methodological development, the co-analysis of project data, connecting with project stakeholders, and collaborating on research outputs. In addition to the monthly meetings, YAP members are keeping individual reflective journals, which will explore their own learning and development as climate ambassadors, and which will selectively form part of the research data.

Hopes and Expectations

When discussing their expectations and hopes for their involvement for the research project, YAP members voiced a few key reasons for their involvement. The first key reason centres around a desire to be involved in a research process, which will contribute towards meaningful change in the climate education and policy sectors. YAP member Islay, for example, expressed her hope to “create real change by being part of the climate education movement”. Likewise, YAP member Morien “would like to help contribute to the production of useful climate data and reports”. Morien’s hope is that “the end result of this project will be the development and amplification of young people’s views on the issue of climate, as [he] thinks this is a much needed and underheard perspective”. Having the opportunity to engage with this research project as a YAP member provides young people with the unusual chance not just to help develop a large-scale research project, but to see how the outcomes of that project are shared and used. As YAP member Miranda states, she would like to help develop some first-hand research, and be able to see how research she has been “involved in shaping and creating […] in an article or in a secondary way”.

The second key reason YAP members expressed for being interested in the CCC-CATAPULT project centres around the opportunity it provides for personal development and knowledge growth. YAP member Rowan, for example, spoke of how she joined “to learn more about climate issues and how we can make a difference as individuals”. YAP member Holly expressed an interest in capitalising on the YAP experience as an opportunity to develop skills which will allow her to develop her career in the sustainability sector, using this a chance “to find out about what types of careers there are to do with climate change or sustainability”. Indeed, a core focus for the YAP experience is that it offers pathways for personal development – through providing YAP members with opportunities for learning, training, and professional experiences. It is hoped that the YAP experience will not only empower YAP members to become ambassadors for change, but provide them with the tools they need to follow their personal interests through their future.

The final reason YAP members stated for their interest in joining the YAP programme was through their interest in learning from, and developing, networks with other young people, whether this be at a local or international level. YAP member Esme, for instance, expressed an interest in learning “what other young people think about climate change based on where they live”. Likewise, YAP member Oscar believes that the YAP opportunity will be “a great opportunity to meet groups in other centres”. Having the opportunity to develop connections with other young people interested in environmental change will be a significant focus of the YAP experience going forward. For instance, to encourage the development of local networks with diverse young people, a climate sharing event is being planned by Bristol-based YAP members and project researchers in conjunction with a local community organisation partner. This event will invite young people across Bristol to come and share in conversations about climate change, learn about some of the local projects and initiatives happening around Bristol, and connect with others who might share their concerns and interests. Within the CCC-Catapult project itself, YAP members in Bristol will soon be participating in virtual international meet-ups with YAP members from other countries, where they will have the opportunity to form connections that will lead to opportunities for international collaborations.

Opportunities and Challenges Co-production

The CCC-Catapult research team are committed to co-production of research. There are multiple benefits to this approach. It is more relevant and practically applicable, can build connections between academic research and the public, and can produce more rigorous results (Campbell and Vanderhoven, 2016). Co-production is also empowering and potentially transformative for those involved, providing opportunities for young people to meaningfully engage with an impactful research project and recognise their own capacity as researchers (Cuevas-Parra, 2020; Pavarini et al. 2019; Durose et al., 2012).

Co-production differs from youth-led research and it poses challenges for both parties involved. For researchers, it means taking a back seat at times in the research process, allowing for other voices and expectations to shape their work. For young people, it means providing energy and time. There is also the tension between expertise and autonomy and the levels of guidance. Researchers are experts in their academic fields – equality in knowledge cannot be fully reached, skills, perspectives and experiences are brilliantly different, and that is not the aim. However, it is the researchers’ responsibility to carefully communicate, craft, facilitate and guide young people with the ultimate aim of authentically providing a platform for them to contribute, shape and influence their futures.

Conclusion and Future Plans

Research co-production through partnership with young people is an ambitious aim of the CCC-Catapult project, and it is a challenge for all involved. Fortunately, the benefits outweigh the challenges, and the research which is produced (in both process and outcomes) will be far more meaningful for those it is intended to help. This is not only an opportunity to co-produce research. We are approaching this project as a unique opportunity to develop a collaborative working relationship that will lead to further opportunities for change, and that will support wider youth-led climate action across Bristol and beyond. 

We are at the very beginning of this collaborative journey. However, YAP members in Bristol will be working with researchers for next two years, and possibly beyond. Over this time, they will be engaging with both the CCC-Catapult project and other relevant events and activities. For example, in late 2021, we will be running a ‘Climate café, Conversation and Cake’ event in Easton, Bristol. Future updates on the YAP process will be communicated through our Instagram (challenging_climate_crisis, 2021) and Twitter (CCC-CATAPULT, 2021) pages, and further information can be accessed through the project website.


This project is funded in the UK through the ESRC and is part of JPI SOLSTICE programme. Its authors are: Sara Williams, Rosamund Portus, Morien Roberston, Holly Preston, Oscar Reynolds, Islay Griffiths, Esme Pykett, Miranda Currie, Rowan Stranger, and Lindsey McEwen. Further details are available from

The contribution of all other members of the CCC_CATAPULT consortium in the collaborative project development is acknowledged. For a full list of all the members of the CCC_CATAPULT consortium please refer to the  website

Reference Links:

Campbell, H. and Vanderhoven, D. (2016). Knowledge That Matters: Realising the Potential of Co-Production. [Online Report]. N8/ESRC Research Programme. Available at: [Accessed 12 October 2021].

CCC-CATAPULT. (2021). CCC-CATAPULT. [Twitter Page]. Available at: [Accessed 05 November 2021].

CCC-Catapult. (2021). Welcome to the CCC-CATAPULT Project! [Online]. CCC-Catapult. Available at: [Accessed 05 November 2021].

challenging_climate_crisis. (2021). Challenging Climate Crisis. [Instagram Page]. Available at: [Accessed 05 November 2021].

Cuevas-Parra, P. (2020). Co-Researching With Children in the Time of COVID-19: Shifting the Narrative on Methodologies to Generate Knowledge. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 19. 1-12. DOI: 10.1177/1609406920982135.

Durose, C., Beebeejaun, Y., Rees, J., Richardson, J. and Richardson, L. (2012). Towards Co-Production in Research with Communities. [Online]. Connected Communities, Arts and Humanities Research Council. Available at: [Accessed 12 October 2021].

Future Leap. (2021). Home. [Online]. Future Leap. Available at: [Accessed 05 November 2021].

Harvey, F. (2021). A million young people urge governments to prioritise climate crisis. [Online]. The Guardian. Last updated: 22 January 2021. Available at: [Accessed 12 October 2021].

Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R.E., Mayall, E.E., Wray, B., Mellor, C. and van Susteren, L. (2021). Young people’s voices on climate anxiety, government betrayal and moral injury: a global phenomenon. [Preprint]. The Lancet, 1-23. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3918955.

IPCC. (2021). Climate change widespread, rapid, and intensifying – IPCC. [Online]. IPCC. Available at: [Accessed 12 October 2021].

Lundy, L., McEvoy, L. and Byrne, B. (2011). Working With Young Children as Co-Researchers: An Approach Informed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Early Education and Development, 22(05). 714-736. DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2011.596463.

Pavarini G., Lorimer, J., Manzini, A., Goundrey-Smith, E. and Singh, I. (2019). Co-producing research with youth: The NeurOx young people’s advisory group model. Health Expectations, 22(04). 743–751. DOI: 10.1111/hex.12911.

Rajmil, L., Hjern, A., Boran, P., Gunnlaugsson, G., de Camargo, O.K. and Raman, S. (2021). Impact of lockdown and school closure on children’s health and well-being during the first wave of COVID-19: a narrative review. BMJ Paediatrics Open, 05(e001043). 1-18. DOI: 10.1136/bmjpo-2021-001043.

The Arnolfini. (2021). ABOUT. [Online]. Arnolfini. Available at: [Accessed 05 November 2021].

UN Environment Programme. (2021). Young people call for urgent climate action at UN Environment Assembly. [Online]. UN Environment Programme. Last updated: 19 February 2021. Available at: [Accessed 12 October 2021].

UNICEF. (1989). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. [Online]. UNICEF. Available at: [Accessed 12 October 2021].

Watts, J and Campbell, D. (2020). Half of child psychiatrists surveyed say patients have environment anxiety. [Online]. The Guardian. Last updated: 20 November 2020. Available at: [Accessed 12 October 2021].

Wu, J., Snell, G. and Samji, H. (2020). Climate anxiety in young people: a call to action. The Lancet, 04(10). E435-E436. DOI: 10.1016/S2542-5196(20)30223.

[1] Recruitment for this group is ongoing. For more information, please contact

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