Now that COP26 is in full swing in Glasgow, it is great to see so much interest in the environment and climate change – issues of course that are at the heart of what we do here in the Green Team. What maybe you don’t realise is that our roots are inextricably woven through the developments that have led to COP26.

Where it all started for The Green Team – Agenda 21

The Green Team was started as a direct response to the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. This was the first major international conference to consider how all countries of the world should work together to address climate change and promote sustainable development. The summit produced Agenda 21, the very first set of sustainable development goals. COP1, the first Conference of the Parties followed in 1995. These global summits recognised that governments across the world needed to come together for joint action. Action on biodiversity, habitat loss and climate change, but that individuals and communities could also get involved in local action.

Think Global, Act Local

‘Think Global, Act Local’ inspired the Green Team’s first environmental volunteering projects providing opportunities for young people to actively make improvements to their local greenspaces. We did this through creating habitats and enhancing biodiversity. And it is not just through practical environmental volunteering that the Green Team makes it’s mark. We connect people to nature, helping them to feel deeply grounded in the natural world, understanding their place in it and their influence on it. Through understanding and learning comes the desire to protect and to act in the best interest of the natural world we all so love. The passion for the natural environment demonstrated by our staff and volunteers and the values we hold is contagious. It’s communicated to the children and young people we work with through leadership and role modelling. We are in the privileged position to provide transformational experiences that help young people to continually learn, adapt and thrive.

Engaging our Young People about the Climate Emergency

Earlier this year some of our staff and volunteers took part in Climate Emergency for Youth Workers training. This was followed up by some facilitation techniques in philosophical enquiry, to help us initiate important conversations with the young people with whom we work. This has garnered new interest in an environmental policy which aims to reduce our fossil fuel emissions, support active and sustainable travel and reduce our carbon footprint. We are mending our tools and equipment, reducing our travel, creating carbon neutral projects, reducing our fires and are soon to invest in electric passenger vehicles.

Building a brighter future

It can be depressing to consider how our actions will affect future generations and the slow progress in taking action to deal with climate change. We know that the positive action that we have promoted at a local level over the last 25 years has made a difference to local communities and to the young people we have worked with. We hope however that our impact is much broader than this. That we have also influenced an entire generation of concerned and informed citizens. Through their personal choices, their working lives and their political engagement, they are contributing to action at a global scale and building a brighter future.

While the eyes of the world are on COP26, we keep our fingers crossed that our leaders make (and honour) firm commitments at a global level. As the Green Team we will keep acting locally and striving to increase the positive impact we have on young people while reducing the negative impact we have on our planet. Our achievements over the last 25 years wouldn’t have been possible without the support of some amazing volunteers, wonderful supporters and a wide range of generous funders – thank you so much.