Student Voice at COP26


This autumn the UK will host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow (31 October – 12 November 2021).  As countries begin to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, it is a historic opportunity to tackle climate change at the same time – to build back better, and greener.

In  the run-up to COP26,   VotesforSchools,  alongside the Children’s Commissioner, will be exploring climate change with children; particularly its effect on their rights. At The Linking Network we are pleased to be working with Votes for Schools to make it as easy as possible for UK students make their voices heard on this issue alongside MPs, local authorities and many other groups. We know that this is an issue of deep concern shared by many students and we will make this one of the Shuttle Dialogue  programme resources for Secondary Linking this autumn, so that teachers can choose to enable students to add their voice part of their link.

Votes for Schools was created to give all young people a better knowledge of current affairs and get them voting! They work alongside influential bodies such as government departments, police, media, celebrities and charities. Their aim is to engage and catalyse 100,000+  children, all over the world,  to share their view on the environment before the conference,  these findings will be shared with The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK).

The COP26 summit will bring many groups together,  including the Scouts, Blue Peter and the British Council,  to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough will be working as ‘COP26 People’s Advocate’ to inspire everyone to ‘take action’ on the road to COP26.

” I am greatly honoured to be given the role of People’s Advocate.  There could not be a more important moment that we should have international agreement…It is crucial that at these meetings in Glasgow, COP26  have success, and that at last the nations will come together to solve the crippling problems that the world now faces.”

Blue Peter is involved, and have invited budding writers from across the UK to write a poem, or story, about something that is affecting our planet today; Our Planet Now.  The winning entry will be transformed into a short, animated film by Aardman Animations, and will premiere at COP26, to set the scene for world leaders to take urgent climate action.

Scouts: From June to November this year, 57 million Scouts from across the world will take a stand and work towards a better world, by taking action to reduce climate change. Chief Scout, Bear Grylls will accompany a group of courageous, young people, backed up by hundreds of thousands of individual actions, which will represent #PromiseToThePlanet at COP26.

The British Council has invited applications for Creative Commissions that bring together art, science and digital technology and offer innovative responses to climate change. The commissions will be part of the cultural programme in the build-up to COP26

Bella Lack,  Global North Youth Co-Chair of the COP26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council will also be present;  Bella, a teenage campaigner who has been seen as a growing voice in the environmental movement,  said she hopes the coronavirus pandemic can help bring about lasting environmental change,   (post Covid) there is still that awareness that we have to change, and we can’t go back to where we were before.”

Elizabeth Wathuti campaigner, environmentalist and Global South Co-Chair of the Cop26 Civil Society,  Youth Advisory Council and founder of The Green Generational Initiative: “COP26 presents an opportunity for the world to take immediate action to end the fossil fuel era and start regenerating nature, while ensuring that all our remaining natural ecosystems stay intact.… it is the decisions we make today that really matter… COP26 is an opportunity and a time to move from commitments to real urgent action.”

Whether you want to help people understand what the summit is for or to galvanise action in your local area, VotesforSchools  will have something for you. They will be releasing a number of toolkits with branding, ideas and resources to help. Keep an eye on the Together for our Planet website for more information.

In September Votes4schools will provide FREE resources (for ages 5 – 16+), mapped to the sustainable development goals (SDGs), to help teachers discuss climate change with their students.

Follow @COP26 on Twitter and Instagram for updates on how you can get involved.

If you are interested in your class being part of the 100,000 Children’s Voices, please register here