Face up to the Future

A little while back I was on the Youth Panel at Forest and Bird’s Face up to the Future conference. It was hosted by comedian Te Radar and bought together five awesome young conservationists (and for some reason me) to talk about the future of conservation. Video above showcases a range of people talking about how we can best face up to the future.

The panel was a lot of fun and really energising. It was great to be able to speak openly and honestly about issues facing youth in a way that wasn’t too confrontational to Baby Boomers. Especially since the audience wanted to learn from us as much as we wanted to learn from them.

Bridget from Project Planet was just amazing. She is 14 and wants to stop shark finning and can quote international treaties off the top of her head. I didn’t even know what legislation was when I was 14. Sheesh.

TK’s idea about getting kiwi kids back in touch with nature by introducing the concept of kaitiaki into our youth’s education was thought provoking. Give each school a piece of land and river and get them to look after it and incorporate it into their learning. Bloody brilliant.

Sarah Hall spoke about her time in Antarctica and about engineering and how we can apply an engineer’s eye to policy and greening our economy. Tarsh Turner from the Coal Action Network was passionate about keeping the coal in the hole and stopping lignite mining in Southland.

Kimberley Collins, a bird nerd like me, was strong about the need to communicate conservation ideas better through ways that youth are choosing to communicate.

When asked by audience member Rachel Anderson-Smith what I was angry about my response was: “Cow shit, mining, and John Key.” This got a raucous response from the audience. But seriously, John, if you’re listening: stop trying to mine our conservation areas and take firm action to clean up our water ways. Now. It’s pretty simple.

If there was one thing we could all agree on it was that we need to start addressing intergenerational injustice now. It’s not just today’s youth who will have to deal with the fallout of the baby boomer’s desire for material wealth at our expense, but all foreseeable generations of humans. We really need to unfuck the planet, and fast.

Journalism student Isobel Ewing wrote this piece about the panel for The Wellingtonian.

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