Work explores impact of climate youth activism programme

young people attend the climate summit online

The Network for Social and Educational Equity at the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change is working with Young Scot to evaluate the organisation’s Scottish Youth Climate Programme.

Young Scot is the national youth information and citizenship charity for 11–26-year-olds in Scotland. The charity provides information, ideas and opportunities for young people, helping them to make informed decisions and choices, and connecting them to local, national and global opportunities.

The Scottish Youth Climate Programme is a partnership project between Young Scot, Youthlink Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful. It is funded by the Scottish Government from June 2021 to March 2022. The programme supports young people’s voices in relation to climate change and has four main outcomes and four key areas of activity.

Supporting young climate champions

The aims of the programme are to:

  • increase climate action taken by young people
  • support young people as climate champions
  • deliver a legacy of involving more young people in climate change policy and decision making
  • host an online youth summit to create a Scottish youth climate declaration.

The four key areas to the programme strategy include recruiting and supporting 50 young people from across Scotland to form the national strategic leadership panel who are responsible for guiding the work of the programme and recruiting and training 10 Local Champions in every local authority area in Scotland.

The national panel was recruited in September and was divided into four working groups to lead each pillar of the programme:

  • Youth climate summit
  • Local champions programme
  • Carbon literacy training for young people
  • Programme legacy

To date, each working group has met online three times to plan the youth summit, design the Local Champions volunteer role and develop a welcome pack, co-designed the training programme on carbon literacy and started planning a post COP event for the legacy phase.

Scottish Youth Climate Summit sign


Youth climate declaration

On Saturday 30 October, the online youth summit took place on with 71 young people attending. Working with nine experts over the day, the participants created their own youth climate declaration to ensure the views and priorities of young people across Scotland were heard by decision makers. This was then recorded at the event to create a digital declaration.

Programme impact

The NSEE team will be assessing the impact of the Scottish Youth Climate Programme with reference to how well the four programme areas achieve their respective aims and will illuminate the processes influencing the programme’s impact.

The evaluation will also explore the impact of the programme on the perceptions of key actors in government and other relevant organisations regarding the value of the programme and its contribution to their work and decision-making.

This aspect of the programme is particularly important as it has implications for young people’s agency and their impact on organisational systems.

Survey of young people

The evaluation will include a survey of the young people involved, observation of the summit and interviews with programme leaders and other organisations involved.

Kevin Lowden, senior researcher at NSEE, said: “This is an important programme that has the potential to provide an authentic process for young people’s voice and views to shape the decisions government and other make in the responses to climate change.

“The programme is also an example of key third sector organisations working in partnership to promote the voice of young people and affect positive change. Given this, it will be important to understand the impact of the programme and use the lessons learned to inform similar initiatives.”

Euan Platt, co-design manager from Young Scot, added: “Young Scot is delighted to be working with Network for Social and Educational Equity to evaluate this exciting youth participation project. Young people’s passion and knowledge on climate change is becoming increasingly recognised, but there is still a lack of opportunities for young people to be meaningfully involved in decision-making spaces.

“We hope the Scottish Youth Climate Programme will create a strong foundation for longer-term inclusion of young people’s views and ideas within national and local policymaking and practice.”



We are the Network for Social and Educational Equity, based in the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow. We work with governments, educational institutions, local authorities and teachers to promote educational change.

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About NSEE

The Network for Social and Educational Equity (NSEE) is part of the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change (ROC) at the University of Glasgow.

It works in collaboration with schools, local authorities, Education Scotland and partner services to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap in young people’s education.

NSEE helps schools to use appropriate evidence and data within collaborative working approaches to critically examine context and current arrangements, make changes based on evidence, monitor the impact of these changes and reflect on what they learn.

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