Established in 2017 by Manchester Climate Change Agency, Manchester Climate Change’s Youth Board aims to give the young people of Manchester an equal voice in decision making on climate change policy. The youth board is a platform for youth-led, meaningful climate action.
In this blog we spoke to three people involved in the board to understand why a youth board is needed, what it’s achieved so far and it’s hopes for the future.
Blog contributors included:
Ash Farrah – Previously a member of the youth board, Ash has now moved into facilitating the youth board whilst also working as a Climate Change Officer for Manchester City Council.
George Coombs – George joined the youth board in October 2021, following the board’s launch of their 2021 manifesto. George worked for Groundwork when he joined and has since moved into a role at Natural England.
Amber Reid – Amber is the most recent recruit, joining the board in summer 2022.
Q: Tell me more about the Manchester Climate Change Youth Board
George – The Youth Board represents and platforms the voices of young people across all of Manchester in climate conversations, centring climate and social justice at the heart of the board’s ethos and work. With a target of carbon neutrality by 2038, the board has a crucial role to play in ensuring the city is successful in reaching this target and playing its part in addressing the climate and ecological crisis. The board works alongside the Manchester Climate Change Agency and established partnership to voice the direction of change on behalf of young people across the district area. It’s a space for likeminded, passionate young people to come together and support one another. We also host events and activities to ensure more young people are engaged in climate conversations in Manchester, plus providing a space for young people with similar interests to socialise.
Q: Why did you decide to join the Manchester Climate Change Youth Board?
George – I have worked in youth-led climate and environmental campaigning circles for a number of years, specifically since leaving University and wanting to find spaces where my energy for environmental action could be best spent. Once I moved back to Manchester, I wanted to find an environmental and climate space that was specific to Manchester or Greater Manchester; being someone who prides themselves on calling Manchester home, I felt it important to give back to the communities who helped guide me from an early age. The Manchester Climate Youth Board had clear direction and drive, and it felt like the perfect fit for me.
Ash – I actually didn’t ever intend to join the Manchester Climate Change Youth Board! In 2017 while studying at university, I attended a group interview for a chance to sit on the wider Manchester Climate Change Partnership. There were 6 of us that day at the interview and thus, the Youth Board was born! One of life’s happy accidents, but still today one of my proudest achievements to see what the YB has grown into and is achieving.
Amber – I heard about the youth board through some contacts, I do a lot of volunteering with people aged 25 and over but I never get to work with people my own age. I met Ash and knew the group would be awesome to work with just by her energy and drive. Also, young people have the headspace to be more creative sometimes! I thought it would be fun!
Q: What do you like about the Manchester Climate Change Youth Board set-up?
George – The board’s age range is 16-28 which creates a truly diverse space, where youth of different generations get together to discuss Manchester climate-action; we all learn from each other. Regardless of how old you are, your voice is important. There currently is no chair or overarching committee, simply a non-hierarchal group who meet to organise and platform youth voice.
Ash – I have always appreciated how the youth board brings together like-minded people of all different backgrounds, areas of study, ages ect. All with the same passion and desire to accelerate climate action that I feel so strongly. It’s so empowering to see that reflected in this close group around you. It keeps you motivated to keep pushing for more action and you know together you’re making a difference, all the while making new friends with brilliant people.
Amber – I love the regularity of the short Tuesday meetings and the flexibility if what skills you can bring to the table. It seems like there’s constant progress because of these things.
Q: What does the Manchester Climate Change Youth Board hope to achieve?
George – The youth board launched their manifesto in October 2021, with a clear set of priorities that centred social justice at the heart of climate action in Manchester.
You can read the full manifesto here:
Since the start of 2022, the board have focused primarily on engagement, with the aim to empower young people across Manchester to join a movement of youth-led climate action. Since the start of the pandemic, young people’s experiences in education, socially, professionally and most importantly, personally, have been shaken. As a result, many young people are unsure as to what direction to go in and where to best place their energy. Joining movements and spaces like what the youth board facilitates, allows young people to join circles where like-minded individuals can collectively organise for change, whilst meeting new friends.
Q: Who do you work with to influence change?
George – We work with Manchester Councillors who have portfolios relevant to young people, environmental matters and the moving towards the carbon neutrality target. One of the main aims of the board is to push our reach further, working with communities across all corners of Manchester. As such, we work with community and youth centres, leaning into the fantastic services and programmes that are embedded in our communities. Environmental and climate action is very much at the forefront of the agenda for schools, further education and higher education institutions. So, we find ways to engage with all areas of educational spaces, including museums and cultural venues, so all young people are engaged in these conversations.
Ash – We also work with and sit alongside the Manchester Climate Change Partnership. This is the city’s network of leaders and decision-makers in some of the biggest organisations in Manchester. Collectively they have come together to commit to a net-zero carbon target date of 2038. The partnership has 30+ members, but as young people it gives us an opportunity to influence Manchester City Football Club, Manchester City Council, both the Uni of Manchester and Man Met, the NHS, Electricity North West and so many more. It’s a very collaborative space and crucial that young people are represented at this level.
Q: How important is it that young people are part of the climate change conversation?
George – If we are not platforming the voices of young people in climate and ecological conversations then we are denying a fundamental right for future generations to have a say in the direction and sustainability of not only the places they call home, but the world that they live on.
It is evident that young people see the climate and ecological crises as one of the leading challenges our world must address, yet direct action is either lacking or diluted. If it weren’t for the collective power of youth voices, the speed by which international and domestic climate and environmental policy has found prominence in most of our political debates would arguably be barely as significant. Five years on from the surge of youth-led climate strikes and generations have changed. The young people of today need their voices not only heard but acted upon, as they are the leaders of tomorrow.
Ash – Young people are immensely aware of the impacts climate change is having now, and will have if leaders continue to delay taking bold action. Never has this been clearer than through the incredible Fridays for Future strikes seen across the globe. Young people in almost every nation stood shoulder to shoulder to demand more, to ensure we will have a future. Incredibly powerful but born out of frustration and climate anxiety that we all feel. Young people are integral to the climate change conversation, as George says they will be the next generation of leaders. It can’t come soon enough!
Amber – Crucial! We aren’t established in life yet so it will affect us as much as adults practically, plus in all the life decisions we have to make. We will also presumably live through more of the chaos and adjustment. And, we’re pretty powerless at the moment. Any window to bring young people more into the conversation is so important for this, and because of the creativity I mentioned before.
Q: How can other young people get involved with the Manchester Climate Change Youth Board?
George – Recruitment for the board will take place in January and February 2023, where young people aged 16-28 across Manchester can apply to be part of both the youth-led climate movement or the board itself. As it is voluntary, you can get involved in any way you like; from organising events to scrutinising policy – this space is for everyone. After another year of damaging weather conditions and rising global temperatures, localised action, led by young people, is a necessity – one that can and will make change across our world.
You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram @MCRClimateYB
Young people (16+) or parents are welcome to contact Ash directly on email: