A Guide To Launching A Successful Youth-Led Environmental Initiative
Did you know that the availability of a clean and sustainable environment is a fundamental right guaranteed to every single child in the world? In fact, according to the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 24 states that every child has the right to a healthy and safe environment, in addition to the best healthcare possible, safe water to drink, information to help stay well, and nutritious food.
Unfortunately, today’s condition of the Earth’s climate has resulted in a wide-spread violation of this right to millions of children across the world, from those in Bangladesh who have lost their homes to floods as a result of rising sea levels, to those in China who wear gas-shielding masks on their way to school due to air pollution. This has been confirmed in the sixth Global Environmental Outlook, a 708-page compendium of the planet’s ailments that was released at a U.N. environmental conference in March 2019, where it has been stated that “urgent action at an unprecedented scale (is) necessary to arrest and reverse this situation”. In fact, according to a BBC article, the world has only 18 months from July 2019 left to improve environmental-saving efforts before irreversible damage is done to the Earth and a dangerous spike in our planet’s temperature.
However, not all is lost. A solution lies within the efforts of a vibrant and talented group of citizens: the world’s youth! Several successful campaigns and initiatives that have impacted communities, cities and countries – such as No Straws Ottawa, BEACON and the Sink or Swim Project – have all been created and implemented by those under 18! Here is a quick guide to creating and launching your very own successful environmental initiative with youth participation:
Stage 1: SELECTION – First, you need to choose what problem you want your campaign to address. There are countless issues that you can choose – single-use battery recycling, treatment of polluted water, removal of microplastics in the air.
Stage 2: PLAN – Now that you have chosen a cause, pick out a name (make something catchy that will be easily memorable), design a logo, determine your target audience who the campaign will be directed to (Restaurants? Schools? Airports?), and outline what you need to do (email companies? Request funding?).
Stage 3: GET SOCIAL – Now that you have planned out the logistics, let everyone know! Set up a website with your campaign’s logo, mission and background information. Set up social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. On those accounts, try to be active by posting regularly, following other environment campaigns and commenting on their progress. Often times on platforms like Instagram, new followers are gained after they discover the comments and likes of an account on posts they already follow!
Stage 4: OUTREACH – Now that you have built a foundation for your campaign, reach your target audience. For example, if your campaign’s aim is to collect single-use batteries for zinc extractions, you can email, call or meet up with schools with environmental clubs across your city, WE chapters, community centres, electronics shops and municipal waste and battery collection sites to get involved by either holding battery collection bake sales and fundraisers or donate portions of their collections to your campaign.
If your campaign is to eliminate plastic straws in retail stores, you can contact restaurants in your city to switch to cheaper alternatives that you can help provide. You can agree with them to endorse them on social media if they choose to drop plastic straws.
Stage 5: KEEP IT SUSTAINABLE – Make sure your campaign model is long lasting – after all, your intention should be long-term beneficial and shouldn’t collapse within a few weeks or months. Make sure you have a solid supply of everything you need to maintain a sustainable long-term running campaign, whether it be friends, volunteers, funding or
This guide is a perfect outline for a strong campaign powered with youth participation. What are you waiting for? Let’s get down to SAVING OUR PLANET!
By: Shifa H. Sarker