250 local schoolchildren have pledged to write to their local Member of Parliament about climate change having been inspired by guest speaker, Chris Packham, at this year’s Suffolk Youth Climate Conference.

The event, held on the 3 July 2024 at Suffolk One Sixth Form College, was organised by the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership.

It is just one way that the partnership is engaging with schools, charities, and community groups to bring about positive change, not just for the environment, but also for the health and wellbeing of Suffolk residents.

Speakers such as Chris Packham, Lord Deben, Kids Against Plastic and Scarlett Westbrook inspired the students with messages of urgency and hope. Chris Packham’s talk looked at the power young people have to shape the future.

A range of workshops allowed the children to discuss topics such as electric vehicles, nature-based solutions, the global food system, coastal adaptation, plastic pollution, flood and water management, sustainable fashion and climate anxiety.

Students also had the opportunity to engage with 30 charities and organisations, that are all working to improve the natural environment in Suffolk.

Emma Dixon, Suffolk Climate Change Partnership Manager, said:

“The Suffolk Youth Climate Conference empowers young people in Suffolk to join us in the fight against climate change.

The Suffolk Public Sector Leaders welcome any opportunity to bring communities together to share knowledge and tools as we collectively work to reduce Suffolk’s carbon emissions and protect our natural environment.

All students in attendance will leave with the tools to express their views and concerns about climate change in their area to their local MP.”

Chris Packham, broadcaster, environmental activist and animal welfare campaigner, said:

“Suffolk has put together a bold coalition of initiatives to address climate breakdown. Wise, because this beautiful and biodiverse county is also a fragile environment which will need to embrace a brave and rapid transition to a lovable future. Hope for me lies in the young, so it is critical that we do not just listen to their needs and ideas, but give them an active role in shaping their future, not a token seat at the table – but the leading voice”.

Zoe, a teacher at Stour Valley Community School who attended, said:

“We had an amazing time today. My students were buzzing with ideas and really fired up with challenging our Strategic Leadership Team to implement real change at school.”

Jake Robson, Sixth Form Principal at One Sixth Form College, said:

“Such a stimulating and important event for young people in Suffolk. Their generation has undoubtedly inherited a climate challenge, but it was abundantly clear that their presence today signalled they are ready to rise to it, transform attitudes, and bring about change.”