Young people, sustainability groups and decision makers came together to discuss climate change at a special Youth Climate Commission.

We were delighted to be able to be involved and carry out a workshop sharing our sustainable initiatives. 

Held at the Tooting Hub, the event was organised by the Wandsworth Youth Council with support from Participation People. The goals of the day were to for all participants to listen to each other, explore how to reduce their impact on climate change, and work together to discuss solutions.

The day started with presentations from pupils representing seven borough schools, discussing what they were doing to tackle climate change. This included using more sustainable modes of transport like walking or cycling to school.

The commission also heard about school tree planting programmes and how they were doing their best to recycle everything and reduce single use plastic.

Local businesses and community groups then spoke about their sustainability initiatives. Among the community organisations in attendance were anti-food waste group ‘Waste Not Want Not’; clothing swap group ‘Swop It Up’; upcycling and clothing manufacturing training group FTA London; Wandsworth Oasis charity shop and Crew Energy.

The school representatives then spit up, joining the community groups to take part in workshops where they learnt how to reduce, reuse, refuse and upcycle.

The final part of the day saw the young people presenting to a ‘Dragons Den’ panel about their ideas to tackle climate change.

The panellists were Cllr Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, Andrew Hagger, climate change policy manager, Paul Chadwick, director of community services and environment, Toby Costin from Crew Energy and Zaqiya Cajee, CEO of Swop it Up.

Cllr Govindia said: “Events like this are crucial to the climate change cause. Young people are going to be the generation that climate change will affect the most, making it critical to give their voices a platform to be heard. This generation will also be the future protectors of our planet so it’s fantastic to see that they are already displaying great initiative and are really engaged in an issue that is as complex is it is concerning.

“When we published our action plan earlier this year, we emphasised the need for community engagement and involvement. While the council is dedicated to making changes and future-proofing our borough we acknowledge there needs to be significant collaboration and buy-in from the community to see a real impact.”

He added: “Communication, transparency and information sharing is so important and that really shone through today. The council is pleased to have such amazing climate warriors in our borough to help us on the path to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”

The event also saw cabinet member for education and children's services, Cllr Will Sweet, speak to the young people about the council’s action plan. He emphasised that “while the council has developed and published an action plan to tackle climate change that is specific to the borough, we need help from the community for it to be successful.”

Cllr Sweet said: “Hearing everything that you as individuals and what your schools are doing to help fight climate change is extremely encouraging. It’s great to know that young people are so engaged in the face of this climate emergency. Young people’s voices are so important on this subject and the council really values their feedback and input.”

The Youth Council also spoke about their plans to ‘youthify’ the council’s Climate Change Action Plan. They spoke about how it was great that the council had an action plan, but it was important that it was presented in a way that young people could understand.

Wandsworth Council published its Climate Change Action Plan earlier this year. Some key actions from the plan were for the council to spend £5 million on initiatives that support their environment and sustainability strategy, improving cycling infrastructure in the borough, switching to 100 per cent renewable energy, significantly increasing their tree planting programme, reducing single use plastic across the organisation and for the council to become ‘gold-level carbon literate’ through staff education programmes.