BBC Presenter Megan McCubbin giving a keynote speech

BBC Presenter Megan McCubbin giving her keynote speech

Suffolk’s first Youth Climate Conference, held on 5th July in Bury St. Edmunds, provided an opportunity for young voices to be heard on matters that will affect their future.

85 of the county’s most environmentally aware students came together at West Suffolk College for a day of discussions, workshops, green careers advice and learning about how to tackle the climate emergency in Suffolk.

It is hoped the conference, organised by the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership on behalf of the public sector leaders, will be the first of many.

The day started with a keynote speech from BBC presenter, zoologist and conservationist Megan McCubbin to inspire the youth delegates with her career journey to date.

Matt Hullis, Head of Suffolk County Council’s Environment Strategy team also presented information about climate action happening across the county and Suffolk’s ambition to be a net zero county by 2030.

Organisations including Suffolk Youth Parliament, Groundwork East, Suffolk MIND, Coastal Partnership East and Students Organising for Sustainability also featured at the conference.

Youth delegates attended interactive workshops where they learned skills to lead climate action in their schools and support their peers to make a difference. Sessions included encouraging biodiversity, understanding behaviour change, designing a carbon-reduction campaign for their school and how to manage eco-anxiety.

Students were also given the opportunity to contribute to a Suffolk Youth Climate Declaration which sets out a framework of environmental calls-to-action, such as increased climate action from their peers, improving biodiversity in school grounds and reducing school energy consumption.

The declaration will be made public later this summer and presented to influential bodies in Suffolk, such as the Suffolk Climate Change, Energy and Environment Board, to help plan future climate change delivery priorities.

Suffolk’s local authorities declared a climate emergency in 2019. A Suffolk Climate Emergency Plan was devised and published in 2021 which sets out the county’s ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. This plan underpins climate action across the county and supports the need to collaborate with local young people on environmental issues.