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AFON’s #VisionForNature report could be a powerful tool for political change, but young people must wield it.

AFON’s #VisionForNature report could be a powerful tool for political change, but young people must wield it.

Yesterday, ‘A Focus on Nature’, an organisation set up to answer the question ‘where are all the young naturalists?’ released their #VisionForNature report. The 2-year endeavour is an inspired effort to document the aspirations of young people for their environment and wildlife by the year 2050.

The document is an eclectic and positive evocation for change, that lays out a vision for a future that combines all the progressive hallmarks of the environmental movement, including renewable energy, sustainable farming, greener economics, rewilding, environmental education and a political focus on biodiversity conservation. It also calls for “a future where the environment underpins government policy”, calling on the government to build a “250-year plan for nature”.

#VisionForNature is admirably bold, it goes further than simply calling for greater protection of our wildlife, but for ecological integration in all areas of our society, ideas that echo in practice Rupert Read’s idea of ‘ecologism’ – a progressive, green alternative to the neoliberal status quo we endure today.

But the report doesn’t stop short of laying out an alternative modus operandi for humankind, it also exposes fundamental shortcomings in the nature conservation movement, highlighting a lack of social and racial diversity, calling on NGOs to address inequalities by becoming far more diverse and inclusive, whilst simultaneously addressing the lack of engagement with certain societal groups”.

This report is nothing short of radical, and in less than two days it has enjoyed profound media success, featuring in the Guardian, Daily Mail and has even earned an endorsement from the venerated deity of the young naturalists everywhere, Sir David Attenborough himself.

For me, this report has illuminated two things. One, #VisionForNature has the potential to be a constitution for a political movement that takes a sledgehammer to the environmental apathy of governments past, by setting out specific and achievable policies.
Two, AFON has managed to produce a positive, environmentally focused body of work that has made its way into the mainstream political conversation during a global atmosphere of fear, sensationalism and ecological ignorance. This shows us something very important; when young people speak, people listen. Society is looking to us, to stand up and lead our country to an environmentally conscious future. In a time where democracy seems hopelessly stagnant, and unable to produce anything more than populism, racism and austerity, young people may be the key to fixing it, and it is time for us to recognise that responsibility.

Blogging for Green Alliance, AFON’s associate director Matt Williams called on the government saying “If they want to start taking the views of young people seriously, all politicians, of every party and across all the parliaments of the UK, should read our report and talk to us about how we can make our vision a reality. For nature and our future’s sake, we need to start those conversations now”. I sincerely hope they listen, but we have to do more than hope – we have to become politically active.

Brexit has caused a seismic shift in the UKs political landscape, one that could see serious deleterious effects on our wildlife and environment (here). If you care about wildlife, I implore you to let Brexit become the morning-bell of your political awakening, let RSPB’s State of Nature Report be your call to arms, and #VisionForNature be the first of many gospels for political change.

Contact your local MPs and ask them to read this report, get involved in local environmental grassroots activist groups, read politics, share politics, talk about politics! Join demonstrations, debate with people, sign petitions and make your voice heard. Because no matter what your views, what happens in Westminster affects us all and will be the battle-ground on which the fate of UK wildlife will be decided in the coming years of Brexit reform.

Let’s build a future in which the nature conservation community has a defining role in UK politics, and we have a chance to create a better world for wildlife and ourselves.
You can read AFON’s #VisionForNature report here. Please do!

Find out more about AFON here:

Website: http://www.afocusonnature.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AFocusOnNature/
Twitter: @AFONature

– Sam Manning (Wilder)

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