Young people step up and create what is rightfully theirs: a healthy planet, a thriving economy and a brighter future

15 Mar 2016



Three months on from the Paris climate change agreement, the Big Lottery Fund is investing £33 million in more than 30 organisations to inspire and develop the next generation of environmental leaders. The National Youth Agency, in partnership with O2, is receiving £1 million.

Our Bright Future aims to tackle three big challenges facing society today – a lack of social cohesion, a lack of opportunities for young people and vulnerability to climate change. Thirty one youth-led projects across the UK are each receiving around £1m of funding to give young people the skills and knowledge to improve their local environments – from reducing marine pollution to minimising food waste. In doing so, young people will develop the confidence and resilience to become environmental leaders and influence decisions at local and national levels. This young, ambitious and capable movement is ensuring this generation’s voice is heard in the current debates around environmental improvements and a resource-efficient economy.

The National Youth Agency’s partnership with O2 Think Big will provide young people aged 17-25 with the finance and support to develop sustainable solutions to pressing environmental challenges. Building on 5 years’ experience of providing grants, training and support to enable young people to lead positive social change on the Think Big programme, NYA will provide cash, training and wrap around support for young people to develop their ideas, confidence and skills to become sustainability leaders of the future.

NYA will fund young people’s solutions to sustainability issues which harness the power of digital.  For example, developing and using digital platforms as a way to share and grow ideas is simple and effective.  One funded project extends the life of resources, such as making second hand kitchenware available to students moving into new accommodation. As well as advocacy for recycling, the project encourages students to think about their environmental footprint more broadly and engage in a host of other linked initiatives to encourage a sustainable lifestyle.  The reused items are available to purchase online together with donation of items for reuse and upcycling.

NYA will support 50 young people with up to £10k to develop their environmental ideas, tackling big challenges around energy efficiency and waste and recycling, helping contribute to a circular economy where resources are well used, recycled and regenerated.

But Our Bright Future goes a lot further than the impressive impacts seen by these individual projects. The programme is gathering strong evidence about how we can support the development of the environment and young people using a resource efficient and sustainable ‘green’ economy. More than a hundred organisations are contributing to the wider Our Bright Future movement by sharing evidence, learning and knowledge which will soon start to inform the choices made at local, regional, and national levels in the UK.

Our Bright Future is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of eight organisations which is led by The Wildlife Trusts.

Paul Miller, interim CEO of the National Youth Agency said: “Young people have brilliant ideas and the enthusiasm and drive to make change happen. We’re really looking forward to supporting them to turn their plans into reality and develop the next generation of green leaders.”

Bill Eyres, Head of Sustainability at O2, said: “Young people are very aware of the pressing environmental challenges our planet is facing, recognising that it will not only affect their future but the future of the generations to come. With young people having the passion to make change, it’s extremely important that we back them  by giving them the tools to develop solutions, and the confidence to become the sustainability leaders of the future.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts said:

Our Bright Future is an innovative movement for change. It is brilliant that the Big Lottery Fund has recognised that societal and environmental challenges are two sides of the same coin. The programme supports young people to develop the skills needed to thrive in the workplace and it does so through the environment. We want to see a generation of courageous and wise leaders empowered to change our world for the better.”

Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund said:

“The environment is where we live. Our Bright Future is designed to unleash the ambition of young people across the UK to make a personal and collective contribution to making our environment brighter, happier and more resilient to threats like climate change and the waste of natural resources. 

“This initiative over the next seven years aims to join up the social, economic and environmental benefits that will come from enabling young people to shape their own future and others that follow them.”

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