Making a difference to the Island

Jersey Youth Service senior youth worker Lisa Mansell outlines the work which the Jersey Youth Parliament is doing to promote environmental awareness and address the issue of climate change

Frances Le Sueur Centre at St Ouen. The Eco group of the Jersey Youth Parliament discuss the recommendations of the citizens assembly on climate change
                                                            Picture: ROB CURRIE (31181819)
Frances Le Sueur Centre at St Ouen. The Eco group of the Jersey Youth Parliament discuss the recommendations of the citizens assembly on climate change Picture: ROB CURRIE (31181819)

JERSEY Youth Parliament is an Islandwide forum for young people to discuss, research and connect current issues to the States Assembly.

The project supports young people in Jersey to lead and engage discussions about issues that affect them.

Young people, aged between 12 and 18, have become members of the Jersey Youth Parliament. These members will hold their roles for up to 18 months, during which time they will receive training and take part in three campaigns.

Members will consult young people in Jersey and include their voice within the campaigns. At the end of each research phase, the Jersey Youth Parliament will compile a report and present its findings to States Members who will then lodge informed propositions to the States Assembly.

The formation of a youth parliament aligns with other jurisdictions who have developed effective structures to hear the voice of young people and influence meaningful changes in their communities. It also adheres to the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 12: ‘The right to be listened to and taken seriously.’

The parliament has chosen three campaigns on which to work over the 18-month term: climate change, mental health and education. Each member has selected a campaign group to join.

The climate-change campaign is working in response to the climate emergency declared in 2019. The group feels passionate about local environmental issues, as well as problems shared globally, and are exploring the following key areas:

• Responding to the recommendations made by the Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change.

• Reducing waste and promoting recycling.

• Moving to sustainable transport.

• Protecting and improving our natural environment.

The group has already met a number of different people including the infrastructure minister Kevin Lewis on a tour of the recycling centre.

Speaking about the visit, Poppy Pendergast (15) said: ‘It was fantastic to find out more about the recycling centre and how it works. We also visited the green waste area and learned about the Energy From Waste plant, which was really interesting. Hopefully we can encourage even more people to make use of the brilliant facility to start reducing our carbon footprint.’

Earlier this month the members were privileged to have a first look at the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations. They spent the day at the Frances Le Sueur Centre in the Jersey National Park reviewing the recommendations and adding in their own feedback. This will then influence the carbon-neutral roadmap.

It was a wonderful opportunity for the young people to really have their voices heard. The day finished with a climate conversation walk led by Sheena Brockie. The group has also met Scrutiny Panel members and has submitted questions to be asked at the public hearings.

The group’s next activity is a sponsored walk finishing at Grow to plant some fruit trees. The members wanted to ensure that they could leave a legacy and do their part in making the Island carbon neutral and thought that some planting would be a positive step to take.

Here is what some of the members have to say about their role in the parliament:

‘I'm really looking forward to seeing the differences and the changes that we make. We've already done a lot of great work and met a lot of great people, gained a lot of knowledge and inspiration from it and I am certain that we can take this really far and make a difference to Jersey and the community in general’ – Wojtek Wiecek (17).

‘We are all really passionate about the environment and we really want to help our community and encourage everyone in Jersey to do their bit. We also want to encourage the government to put things in place that will help the environment’ – Sydney Haskins (15).

‘I want to make it that this entire island is eco-friendly, with electricity, tidal power and also help biodiversity’ – Call Dettman (12).

To be kept up to date with what the group is up to, follow Jersey Youth Parliament on social media.

A battle we have to win

Jersey Youth Parliament member Emily Rodrigues (17) talks about her motivation and inspiration

Why did you want to become a member of Jersey Youth Parliament?

I want to be a voice for other young people who feel like they are not heard in the Island. I wanted to make a difference and further my political knowledge while also doing something to help improve the Island.

What made you select the climate-change campaign to work on?

I chose the climate-change campaign because it is one of my biggest passions and I feel very strongly about combatting climate change before it is too late. There is a lot going on with the world and an endless amount of problems. With that, there is also an endless amount of solutions to these problems which we, as young people, could combat. However, if we lose the battle to climate change, there will not be a world for us to fix.

How could the community best work together to improve the lives of future generations?

I think the best way for the community to work together is to listen to each other and to learn from others to find the most eco-efficient ways of living to combat climate change before it is too late.

We need to change our attitudes and bad habits by spreading awareness of better ways to live to bring down the levels of emissions and therefore reduce the rate at which climate change is rising, which will improve the lives of future generations.

One easy thing the whole Jersey community could be doing is recycling. The more we recycle, the fewer greenhouse gasses are in the air. We need to help each other and educate each other before it is too late.

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