A few months ago I was talking to Hattie, former Urban Rangers leader at Morden Hall Park, and I was delighted to be asked to the #iwill4nature launch event in London on the 31st January, a day to look forward to!
The campaign, for 2019, was launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2013, while DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) pledged to develop youth social action through it. As it's part of the governments 2019 plan for Green Action, it's an important campaign aiming to develop the ideas of the younger generation so that we can get more involved with what we care for and make sure that change, for nature in this case, can take place. To improve the chances of success, many key groups around the UK - such as The Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, RSPB, WWF, Woodland Trust, Kew and Action for Conservation - are also pledging to promote youth social action for nature.
Find out more from the main website here.
So after leaving school I arrived at Morden Hall by 4pm so Hattie and I could travel up to ZSL London Zoo for the launch, arriving well in time for the start at 5pm. Hattie had also told me while we were on the tube that we would be in charge of the National Trusts External Affairs twitter account, so would be live tweeting throughout the event.
For a while we spoke to representatives from various groups, such as Action for Conservation, before the talks began. It was interesting to talk to people with much more knowledge than myself, which gave me a better idea on how change could be brought about. This also helped me to decide what to write for a pledge that I added to the tree of pledges that was in the room.
|Michael Gove speaking|
|Michael Gove speaking|
Soon after speaking to people and taking a few pictures, and a few snacks, we took our seats in preparation for the speeches.
Firstly, after an introduction to the event with a video from the HRH Prince of Wales (who was unable to attend the event,) a few speakers addressed us including Dominic Jermey and Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove, who's speech was extremely powerful, discussing the issues that the #iwill campaign is addressing.
Then, there was a series of speeches from younger ambassadors. First of all, Yetunde spoke about the project as a whole, introducing us to the aims and also the other people involved with it. Next up was Zach Haynes, who gave a great speech on why nature was important to the UK on a number of levels, and the importance the #iwill project may play in this. It was also great to hear that he'd given the People's Manifesto for Wildlife to Michael Gove earlier in the day (his blog post link is here!) The third speaker was Dara McAnulty who had travelled from Northern Ireland to be here. Having heard his poem at the People's Walk for Wildlife in 2018, I was expecting another amazing speech and it was even better than expected, explaining why it was so important to not only him but everybody, showing that we need nature. His passion was great to hear, and as another younger person I know that I would never have been able to present a speech even nearly as good his! To conclude talks from the ambassadors, Nayha spoke about the significance of the environment, and about why younger people need to get more involved with the hobby. All of these speeches were powerful and effectively conveyed why the younger generation would be crucial in deciding what happens to the natural world in the future.
After a few more speeches from representatives from organisations such as the WWF, Yetunde wrapped it up to conclude all the speeches.
|Zach H speaking|
|Dara M speaking|
Hattie and I hung around for a little bit longer, having been live tweeting throughout the launch. We spoke to a few more organisations such as the RSPB (and it was great to see some familiar faces!) I also had the chance to have a quick chat with Dara, and it was great to talk to such an inspirational person that's of similar age to me - sadly, we had to leave shortly after 7pm so I couldn't talk to Zach or any other ambassador, but hopefully - if I do become an ambassador in the near future - I'll get the chance to meet some more people later on...
I'd like to give a massive thanks to Hattie for asking me to go with her to the launch, as it was a great night and an extremely enjoyable way to spend my 16th birthday. Hopefully, the next few years will be crucial in deciding the future for the environment!