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Net Zero Nation engagement consultation: Citizen action must be led by policymakers

Children in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s Draft Public Engagement Strategy for Climate Change.

In our response we voice support for plans to raise awareness and facilitate public buy-in to tackle environmental issues but call for meaningful engagement, especially with children and young people, to achieve its desired aims.

Broadly supportive of the proposals, we welcome the plans to improve public understanding of the issue of climate change and its importance, followed by genuine opportunities to act.

However, we urge that all engagement is done so in an inclusive and meaningful way, and that the call for citizen-led action is supported and facilitated by policymakers who provide the means and methods for behavioural change.

Elaine Kerridge, Policy Manager (Participation and Engagement) with Children in Scotland said:

“We fully support the broad principles outlined in the government’s engagement strategy, but remind them that good public engagement means a flexible approach and flexible ways of working to accommodate a wide range of needs.

"With this in mind we have made a number of suggestions as to how effective and meaningful engagement with children and young people can be achieved in order to ensure their right to be involved in decision making is realised.

“In addition, while we appreciate the intention to encourage more citizen engagement, this will only be successful if they are supported by those in power. Policies and practices must facilitate and support community action.

“Furthermore, the government must ensure they are not placing the emphasise entirely on members of the public, but are working with businesses and corporations to ensure their practices support a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of life.”

Welcoming the medium to long-term view for the engagement strategy, we warn it should not prohibit direct action now. We also suggest COP26, due to take place in Glasgow later this year, could present some opportunities for engagement and enthusiasm for change.

The Children in Scotland Manifesto 2021-26 calls for action on climate change including activity to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, a commitment to improve air quality in public spaces and the inclusion of climate change education, including possible action, in the school curriculum.

Read Children in Scotland’s consultation response in full here

Children in Scotland Manifesto 2021-26

Read more about our calls for change across a range of themes, including the environment

Click to read our manifesto

Children in Scotland Magazine: Issue 197

A special environment-themed edition. Published in April 2020.

Click to read online

Resource: Participation guidelines

Principles and guidelines for meaningful engagement with children and young people

Click to download