Our Story Is Just Beginning
As young people, we feel the weight of the planet’s future on our shoulders. We’ve grown up with the climate science, and we’re socially and environmentally aware. Knowledge is power, but it lacks impact without a platform.
Enter the Youth Climate Network – a support network for young people with a shared goal to protect our planet. Here, our ideas and actions for a climate-ready future are valued and supported. It’s given us a source of pride, and the tools and recognition to fight for a safe climate.
Our adventure began in early 2020, when we came together from across the Loddon Mallee region for the Youth Climate Retreat, a weekend filled with discussions around generating momentum for change within our communities. We left with a sense of purpose, hope and community, our ideas collated into achievable goals and actions.
In early 2021, we gathered again for the ‘Climate Change on Country’ event, an opportunity to learn from our region’s Traditional Custodians, the Dja Dja Wurrung. Elders Aunty Marilyne Nicholls and Uncle Rick Nelson invited us to take part in a smoking ceremony and visit local Aboriginal sites, generously sharing their cultural practices, knowledge and wisdom. Learning from the oldest living culture on Earth how to protect and understand the land we live on was a privilege.
These experiences have informed the network’s Youth Climate Advisory Board (Y-CAB), created to ensure young people are heard and their aspirations are reflected in government policy. This includes listening to young people’s feedback on ADAPT Loddon Mallee’s Climate Ready Plan, which outlines the environmental future of our region and offers a framework for action. Bringing young people on board, and asking for our endorsement and approval of the plan, holds us, the community and governing bodies to account. It’s the basis of a system of change – a thread that ties the possibilities of the future from all perspectives together.
Stability, safety, support, equality and connection are all part of the Climate Ready Plan – elements Y-CAB believes are vital for growth and transformation to occur. Climate change is no longer a movement or a possibility, it’s a reality. The Youth Climate Network has embedded young people in the structure and frontline discussions of climate action in our region. It’s empowered us and the wider community to protect – and feel hopeful in – our planet’s future.
Meghan Walker, Youth Climate Network participant