Young people from across Sunderland have joined forces to help shape plans to achieve the city’s carbon neutrality ambitions.
The Environmental, Green, Sustainable (EGS) Group met for the first time at Sunderland College’s City Campus this month to discuss climate action and to develop plans that will help the city deliver its Low Carbon Framework.
Partners across the city signed up to the Framework last December, with the aim of driving down emissions and seeking to make the city carbon neutral by 2040.
The first meeting of the group brought together representatives from all areas of the city, including from primary and secondary schools, youth groups and Sunderland Youth Council, as well as students from Sunderland College and the University of Sunderland.
Facilitated by Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of Education Partnership North East (EPNE) and chair of Sunderland Business Partnership, the inaugural meeting saw the group discuss climate action they are already involved in as well as how they will work together as a group to tackle these important issues.
They then went on to nominate the first two representatives to participate in the city’s next partnership-wide 2030 Shadow Board – Eleni Avgenaki from University of Sunderland and Eva Bibi, a student at St. Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy. Other participants will have the opportunity to represent the group at future Shadow Board meetings, which are chaired by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Graeme Miller.
The group also voted on a hashtag to be used to tag all of their sustainable activities and to encourage people across the city to participate – #WearSustainable – as well as choosing their group name, Environmental, Green and Sustainable (EGS).
Dominic Parkin, who is also a member of Sunderland Youth Council, said: “I’m a member of Youth Parliament and have joined the steering group because I feel as though we can genuinely make a lot of changes to the environment and that change needs to happen now.”
Another member of the group is Anya Marshall, a year 4 pupil from Seaburn Dene Primary School, who signed up in a bid to ‘help clean up the world.’
She said: “I’m really excited to do all of this. I’d really like to help save the planet and often take my litter picker to the beach to help the planet. I like helping the forests too and came today because I believe that we can make a change to the world.”
Eva Bibi, who will be representing the young people at the next 2030 Shadow Board meeting, added: “The reason I came here today is because I care so much about the environment. The environment affects everyone and every little thing we can do to make a difference really matters. So please, please do your bit and help save the planet and all of the animals.”
The 2030 Shadow Board partnership made the decision to task the next generation with bringing to life the Framework to ensure that the effort is owned and led by those who will grow up and live in a more sustainable city as a result.
Ellen said: “Sunderland College signed up as an early supporter of the Framework so it was a real pleasure when I was asked to facilitate the first workshop of young people helping to bring this strategy to life.
“The enthusiasm and passion they displayed was fantastic and I am looking forward to supporting them as we raise awareness of the devastating impacts of climate change and bring about real, positive change for generations to come.”
Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, added: “The fight to save the planet is one that needs action right here, right now and we’re delighted to be working shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the young people whose lives will be most impacted by climate change.
“We know this is an issue of critical importance to Sunderland’s young people and we are delighted to have them involved and contributing to all the work that we are taking forward on this agenda.
“There is much to do, but in establishing this group to help drive forward the Low Carbon Framework, I am confident we can achieve our ambitious targets. Sunderland people always come together when there is a crisis – and this is a very real crisis. It’s one that requires a collective and sustained effort.
“I am confident that – together – we can make a real difference.”
For more information on the Low Carbon Framework, visit: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/lowcarbon
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