Three months on from the Paris climate change agreement, more than 30 organisations are using £33 million from the Big Lottery Fund to help young people step up and create what is rightfully theirs: a healthy planet, a thriving economy and a brighter future. With more than 50,000 young people reached through the programme, Our Bright Future is creating the next generation of environmental leaders.

Our Bright Future aims to tackle three big challenges facing society today – a lack of social cohesion, a lack of opportunities for young people and vulnerability to climate change. Thirty one youth-led projects across the UK are receiving around £1 million each of National Lottery funding to give young people the skills and knowledge to improve their local environments – from reducing marine pollution to minimising food waste. In doing so, young people will develop the confidence and resilience to become environmental leaders and influence decisions at local and national levels. This young, ambitious and capable movement is ensuring this generation’s voice is heard in the current debates around environmental improvements and a resource-efficient economy.

One project run by the National Union of Students is creating more than 60 social enterprises across the UK. As a result, 10,000 young people will benefit from improved employability skills and carbon emissions will be reduced by 1,000 tonnes. In another project, more than 6,000 young people will benefit from environmental training with the Learning through Landscapes Trust’s ‘Fruit-full Communities’ project creating community orchards. Global Feedback Ltd’s ‘From Farm to Fork’ project will help young people to gain skills and qualifications whilst providing approximately 6.2 million portions of fruit and vegetables to charities and community groups.

But Our Bright Future goes a lot further than the impressive impacts seen by these individual projects. The programme is gathering strong evidence about how we can support the development of the environment and young people using a resource efficient and sustainable ‘green’ economy. More than a hundred organisations are contributing to the wider Our Bright Future movement by sharing evidence, learning and knowledge which will soon start to inform the choices made at local, regional, and national levels in the UK.

Our Bright Future is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of eight organisations led by The Wildlife Trusts. The partnership has more than 40 years of combined experience in managing social and environmental grant programmes totalling nearly £300 million, and has a proven track record of working with and empowering young people in communities of all social circumstances.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts said:

Our Bright Future is an innovative movement for change. It is brilliant that The Big Lottery Fund has recognised that societal and environmental challenges are two sides of the same coin. The programme supports young people to develop the skills needed to thrive in the workplace and it does so through the environment. We want to see a generation of courageous and wise leaders empowered to change our world for the better.”

Peter Ainsworth, UK Chair, Big Lottery Fund said:

“The environment is where we live. Our Bright Future is designed to unleash the ambition of young people across the UK to make a personal and collective contribution to making our environment brighter, happier and more resilient to threats like climate change and the waste of natural resources. 

“This initiative over the next seven years aims to join up the social, economic and environmental benefits that will come from enabling young people to shape their own future and others that follow them.”

With over 30 projects across the UK and the involvement of organisations such as St Mungo’s, The National Trust, Action for Blind People, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Friends of the Earth, and UpRising, there is a very bright future ahead.

Other project examples:

  • Up to 25,000 people will benefit from environmental improvement projects focused at combating climate change with Groundwork UK. These projects will enable 900 young people to gain new skills relevant to finding jobs, training, volunteering opportunities, or starting entrepreneurial projects that contribute to the green economy.
  • Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs will be inspiring up to 4,000 young people through education/skills-based activities which discover, explore and enhance the environment.
  • 50 young people will have the opportunity to gain up to £10,000 from a Dragon’s Den-style panel for their own environmental projects with The National Youth Agency.