The Planet Under Pressure 2012 (PUP) conference, hosted by The Royal Society, brought together a wide variety of stakeholders to develop understanding of and solutions to significant global sustainability challenges. To ensure young voices were represented at this conference, the University of East Anglia, the British Science Association, Research Councils UK and Sciencewise developed the Youth Voice project. This involved 12 young people from across the UK being selected and supported to prepare and present a speech at the opening ceremony of the conference. They expressed their views on various important aspects of sustainability including how biodiversity should be protected, potential food systems solutions, sustaining growth and managing water resources.
This presentation was prepared during a one-day workshop where the young people were aided by researchers provided by the Research Councils. The young people also surveyed their own schools with results feeding into the presentation. The presentation contributed to the ‘state of planet declaration’ produced at the end of the conference to draw out key themes and this declaration was presented to the UN conference on Sustainable Development – Rio +20.
The Youth Voice project also had meaningful impact on the young people involved who improved their networking, communication and presentation skills, developed greater knowledge and understanding of environmental issues, and developed their project management skills. Delegates at the conference also found it useful to be reminded of the consequences for future generations of decisions being made at the conference.
This project was delivered by the British Science Association and was evaluated by OPM.