Youth Focus North West hosted the second North West Net Zero Youth Conference which took place on Saturday 25th November at the University of Salford.  The event aimed to bring together young people aged 13-19 from across the North West to share their thoughts and ideas about a range of climate and net zero topics including Energy, Transport, Green Jobs and Economy and Green Spaces.   Azra Eva Yavas attended for the day and has written the following reportage on the event for readers…

The North West Net Zero Youth Conference which took place on Saturday 25th November was incredibly informative and inspiring! The four stations covered a range of topics, and they were certainly delivered as an unforgettable experience for attendees.

Andrew Speight delivered an amazing introduction to the Net Zero Event and what we could expect in the sessions of the day.

The Green Economy presented by Elizabeth Compton and Amy Catton examined the concept of a circular economy and routes to embedding a North West circular economy on our route to Net Zero. The insights into green jobs, the prevalence of greenwashing in large fashion companies, and the University of Salford’s commitment to a sustainable campus were particularly eye-opening. Challenges in transitioning to greener economies were addressed. Two noteworthy projects in the North West—the Hynet, using hydrogen for clean energy and the retrofitting of homes & buildings —highlighted impactful initiatives. The group pitch sessions added an engaging element, showcasing active participation and discussions on project funding. The winners received a reusable metal straw as a prize! This session left us energized and motivated to contribute to a more sustainable future.

Green Energy, presented by Connor, Hari and Andrew revolved around the topic of renewable energies, harnessed from the sun, water, wind, and hydro sources. The new eco-friendly game-changers, waving goodbye to harmful gases and fossil fuels. Our actions have amped up the natural extinction rate to 1000 times the normal pace. A Menti quiz on green energy was followed by lively debates, where one side passionately agrees and the other ardently disagrees to three different points listed on a board, one being “100 % Green Energy is not an achievable goal”. This was a dynamic push towards a cleaner, greener future—one debate at a time!

Green Spaces was mostly an interactive session, learning about the impact of Green Spaces on our Net Zero goals and to our health and communities. This session was brought to us by Milly Breeze and Jayden Nightingale. They introduced us to current work happening to recover Peat Bogs and Sow the City’s projects to create more accessible green urban spaces. We then wrote poems on leaves about our gardens from the point of view of an animal or a place in our community of exceptional beauty which gathered our creative minds in a multitude of ideas! Together, the tree’s leaves would be formed, representing nature in our communities. Making seed bombs was also a thrilling experience including mixing substances made up of soil, clay and seeds in round balls to plant and watch them grow all year round!

Green Transport included a lovely walking trail around the Salford Campus, with questions along the way we would discuss in our groups about transport and ongoing problems and solutions to these. One being “What could be improved about transport in your local community?” This interactive session allowed us to think and discuss about our local communities’ transport-wise and acknowledge goals and further solutions we could voice back to the government! Back inside, each group gave a speech about green transport, and my group based it on cultural barriers and commonly associated ideas around transport.

The Discussion Panel was hosted by Matt Sowerby and consisted of Amy Bray, Anna Taylor, Amy and Prem; the volunteers who created the workshops talking about their involvement in green groups, passions and campaigns. Questions from the audience then followed, allowing us to gain a view from experiences of other activists and their earlier involvements and future plans, concluding as the last session of a wonderful day!

The Net Zero Event succeeded in delivering a well-rounded and immersive experience that catered to a diverse audience, impacting the viewers for a greener future to come. What a pleasure it was to take part in this insightful event!

Thank you so much for organizing this inspiring event as it has been a truly enlightening experience!

Azra Eva Yavas, Manchester 2023

If you’re a leader or a member of a north west youth group and are interested in doing more for the environment and on climate change, please follow @youthfocusNW on social media for more information and updates on events.

Please continue your read with a poem created during the event by Poet, Storyteller, Educator and Activist, Matt Sowerby:

Go North

In the days to come

In the age of storm

As the fire spreads

And tensions warms

When seasons loosen

And nations war

Go North, they’ll say, go north

Where every job is a green job

And people power is seen as the cleanest

a people who met our crisis with reason

where the sea is teaming

Where they’re proud of their peatland —

Carbon captured

and kept like a secret

Go North, they will say

Where the skies are alive

Where there’s Sphagnum moss and dragonflies

sun dew and red kites

Where still you can see every star in the sky

Go North, they’ll say, go north

Where traffic jams are a thing of the past

They show the pictures in history class

Kids say ‘You’re having a laugh’

And cycle home, safe, with litter pickers on their backs

Where out on the streets, the cars are the guests

And the roads are all teaming With cyclists instead

free wheeling. the air is so fresh.

And their eyes and their ears and their other senses are fed

And they smile to their neighbours going the same way as them.

North — Where they’re leading the energy revolution, again

Go North, they’ll say, go North where they have the grit to get things done

Where people live clean off the sea and wind and sun

Keep coal in the hole, but still keep the lights on

Where they’ve got nature back on track and have only just begun

Go north,

where the people

are just northern

They’re warm and straight talking

They answer the call

get things sorted

Move forward

You know the 2040 weather forecast is looking appalling

But as the oceans rise

And the fire spreads

And refugees wonder where we’ll go next

People with sense will say what people with sense have always said

Go North, they’ll say, go north.

GM Green City Logo