Verge Meets: Charlie from People’s Assembly for Nature

The People’s Assembly for Nature was the first time ever that citizens from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have come together to collectively agree on how to tackle the nature crisis.  A representative group of 103 people with different backgrounds, values and experiences were randomly chosen to form the People’s Assembly for Nature and together they created the People’s Plan for Nature, which launched in March.

Charlie was part of the People’s Assembly for Nature at just 17 years old and recently took the People’s Plan for Nature to Parliament with Peers for the Planet and has also spoken at the RSA and been part of a Parliamentary event sharing the Plan with Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and shadow/ opposition Ministers.

Charlie also knows that this really matters to other young people, with recent YouGov research also showing young people (aged 18-24) are more likely than the UK as a whole to enjoy socialising in nature (42% vs 34%) and to want more green spaces (37% vs 30%). Young people also expressed a desire for more specific nature themed groups for different communities (26% vs 15%).

Charlie is really standing up for change, despite not being old enough to vote yet and wants to show other young people how we can amplify the voices of other students to get urgent, immediate action – from governments, businesses, charities, organisations, farmers and communities – to protect and fundamentally change how we value nature.

We caught up with Charlie to ask them more…

 

What is the People’s Plan for Nature/People’s Assembly for Nature?

The People’s Assembly for Nature was a citizen’s assembly of just over 100 people, coming together from all over the UK to create a plan (aka the People’s Plan For Nature) to protect and restore nature in the UK. It was designed so that the assembly members were from all different walks of life, with varying levels of knowledge about the nature crisis and therefore less bias about problem-solving.

The People’s Plan for Nature is a vision for the future of nature, and the actions we must all take to protect and renew it. Powered by the WWF, the RSPB and National Trust, it is a unique collaboration with the UK public to protect and restore nature in the UK.

 

How did you get involved with the People’s Plan For Nature?

I became involved in the People’s Plan after my mum found it online. She signed us both up, but she wasn’t picked to participate.

 

How did your connection to nature develop?

I grew up in Western Australia, surrounded by beaches and the outback – definitely a different sort of environment than one would expect in the UK, but one that let me foster a love for nature of all kinds. My parents both worked around sustainability, so I grew up with a healthy understanding of the risks to the earth in this day and age, which only caused my love (and fear) for the world around us to grow.

 

Why is access to nature so important to students?

Access to nature is incredibly important for students. A study recently done by Kings College Hospital found that nearly 16% of university students suffer from mental health problems, another study by Place2Be and NAHT states that 95% of staff working at UK schools have noticed increased anxiety in their students. It has been shown time and time again that people are happier and healthier when they have access to nature, in fact, several of the calls to action in the People’s Plan are dedicated to this topic for this very reason. Every student in the UK could benefit from more access, as could every person. 

 

What was it like visiting Parliament? What did you do whilst you were there?

Visiting Parliament (more specifically the House of Lords), was an incredibly cool experience. I attended with a number of other Assembly members and organisers to talk to a collection of Lords and MPs about the People’s Plan, our hopes for its progress and the government-specific calls to action, along with how the people there could help us get the Plan further. 

 

What do you hope the Plan and the Assembly will achieve?

I hope that the People’s Plan is successful in all its calls to action. I believe that we can protect and restore nature in the UK as the Plan intends, and that the People’s Plan is truly the best way to do it. 

 

What can individuals do to help make nature a place for everyone?

A lot of times people come to the conclusion that individual effort will not make a difference. People think that their own actions won’t actually make a difference to the overall problems, that just because they take an extra long shower or eat food from a factory it won’t make a difference, but it DOES. If everybody takes individual action we can and we will make a difference. The Plan encourages individuals to commit to changes in their lifestyle, including reducing household water use, reducing the amount of meat they eat, eating locally sourced fish, and changing who they shop with by supporting nature-friendly businesses.

 

You can find out more about the People’s Plan here.

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