Eco-Thursdays: COP26 Youth Empowerment Day

Friday 5th November was Youth and Public Empowerment Day at COP26 in Glasgow. Here’s a summary of the day’s events:

Fridays for Future March

On Friday, Greta Thunberg led the Glasgow Fridays for Future march, with around 100,000 young activists and protestors joining the protest to call for meaningful action on climate change. They centred MAPA in the march and the speeches which followed – the Most Affected People and Areas. This refers to the disproportionate affect that climate change and environmental breakdown is having and will continue to have on the most disadvantaged communities around the world.

Greta criticised the proceedings at COP26 earlier in the week, citing meaningless words and little follow through as signals that real change would not be generated within the conference’s halls.

Youth Representation

The youth version of COP26, Climate of Youth 16, put together a Global Youth Position statement this Autumn, representing the views of over 40,000 young people around the world. COY16 held virtual workshops and conferences in the weeks leading up to COP26 to enable young people to discuss environmental priorities and put together a joint statement on the action that is needed to tackle environmental breakdown. Young climate activists were also invited to join politicians in the summit in Glasgow to share their views on youth empowerment day.

The Global Youth Position statement covered topics including climate finance,

transportation, and wildlife conservation. In September, a Youth4Climate summit was held in Milan, and produced a manifesto developed by 400 young people at the event. This manifesto, along with the COY16 statement, was discussed by leaders towards the end of the day. It is unclear, however, whether these statements created any new actions.

Curriculum Commitments

On youth empowerment day, 23 countries made pledges to include better climate education in their curriculums. This includes the UK, South Korea, Albania, and Sierra Leone. The pledges range from commitments to decarbonising the education sector to new school resources.

The UK announced a draft Sustainability and Climate Change strategy, which would see the introduction of a Primary Science Model Curriculum to develop children’s conservation skills. The full strategy and further curriculum changes will be announced in April 2022. The UK has also raised the potential introduction of a new Duke of Edinburgh-style climate award for students at school. The Climate Leaders Award would be celebrated with a national ceremony each year, and focus on developing sustainability skills and protecting their local environment.


James is the Chief Executive officer of Ormiston Trust. He has worked as an organisation advisor in the private, public and voluntary sectors, helping organisations to grow sustainably over the medium to long term. He has helped charities for over 20 years in the fields of strategic development, partnership setup, programme and project delivery.

Poppy is the Youth Engagement and Partnership Officer at Ormiston Trust, responsible for coordinating our team of Young Advisors and developing effective working relationships with external organisations. She is currently studying ‘Politics, International Studies and Global Sustainable Development’ at Warwick University and previously worked as Board Advisor for a non-profit youth-focused organisation in Croydon. She has experience in activism work – attending COP26 with environmental education company Force of Nature and had been a member of the UK Youth Parliament for many years, speaking on environmental issues in the House of Commons for its ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign.

Tom heads up Comms and Youth Engagement here at Ormiston Trust. His role focuses mainly on helping run the Youth Advisory Council, as well as heading up our social media accounts and planning events. His creative roots lie in journalism, music and theatre as well as horticulture and creative producing, having been involved in a variety of workshops and projects. Tom is passionate about the environment and politics and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Birmingham in International Relations.

Fiona is the Grants Assistant at Ormiston Trust and in her role she supports the Grants team. Previously, she worked in the City for 10 years, firstly as a dealer on the floor of the London Stock Exchange and then as an equity salestrader.  

Samia is a business and ICT Teacher with over 20 years of leadership experience in Education, working with leaders from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 5. Her experience has ranged from working as an Acting Head Teacher to a Deputy for an Education Trust. Some of the key highlights from her education career have included building schools and setting up education provisions, including a teaching school, and winning several National awards. Samia is passionate about ensuring the young people in her care have the best possible experience and has always led by example by sending her own children to the schools she has been a part of.

Ray leads the youth engagement, partnerships and fundraising work streams at Ormiston Trust, in particular having strategic oversight of how we as an organisation can embed the voices of our young people in everything we do, and how we can work with partner organisations to maximise shared outcomes and opportunities.

His background is in community project development and funding, having worked with charities, schools, and local authorities in East Anglia to develop a plethora of projects including primary-secondary school transition, award-winning youth amateur theatre, social prescribing in rural GP practices, and youth commissioning boards, for which he was recognised as a Prime Minister’s Point of Light.

Ray is a global health and medicine graduate, alongside his work at Ormiston, he is a hospital doctor and public health academic. He is also an #iWill Ambassador and national #iWill Partnership Board member.

Anne is Finance Manager at Ormiston Trust and has worked for Ormiston Trust for over 30 years, overseeing the property portfolio and asset management. She combines her work at the Trust with voluntary community work and has raised thousands of pounds to enhance leisure and education opportunities for young people in disadvantaged communities. 

Karlene is Finance Manager at Ormiston Trust and has been handling the Financial Management of Ormiston Trust since 2014. Her background is in Financial Services with 20 years working in the industry and she has a passion for systems, processes and spreadsheets to enable good finance management. 

Aneela is the Head of Education at Ormiston Trust. Prior to joining Ormiston Trust, she was Head of Professional Development and School Improvement at Beaconhouse Group, overseeing the professional development of over 8000 teachers and implementing systems for school improvement across 200 international schools, in the Southeast region. Prior to this, she worked at Universities in the UAE, where she taught on the Bachelor of Education and Diploma programmes, and previous to this she was a Lead Advisor for Nord Anglia Education services, working with head teachers and principals to raise educational standards across schools in Abu Dhabi.

Melissa is a Programme Management Officer at Ormiston Trust. In her role she supports the #WeWill programme management, and works closely with the monitoring & evaluation, social action toolkit & skills, and youth engagement teams. She completed her undergraduate degree in International Development at the University of Sussex, and her postgraduate degree in Global Health and Development at UCL. Over the last eight years, she has dedicated much of her time to working with non-profit organisations in the UK, Nigeria, China, and Tanzania.