For the first time this year, 16 and 17-year olds will have the chance to vote in Wales’ Local Authority Elections on the 5th of May. Young people involved in the Our Bright Future and Stand for Nature Wales programmes will be seizing this opportunity to give nature a voice and demand that Wales’ Local Authorities do everything they can to tackle the twin nature and climate crisis emergencies.
Give nature a voice by contacting your local candidates here
Earlier this month, they organised an election “speed debating” meeting at which young candidates from main parties answered questions from young people online. The event was chaired by Poppy Stowell Evans, one of Wales’ Youth Climate Ambassadors and included young candidates from Labour, Conservative, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats and focussed specifically on what local authorities can do practically to tackle the nature and climate crises. This can still be viewed online here.
What you can do in your own area
Now that nominations have closed, a special website has been set up to enable the public to reach out to their local candidates about their plans for tackling the nature and climate crises in their area.
James from Gwynedd, who is involved in the Stand for Wales project in North Wales, says: “Nature to me is the living world around you. It’s your local park. It’s your garden. At a bigger scale, it’s the forests, the oceans. We ourselves are part of nature, dependent on it for survival. We require it for our food, our clean water, and our building materials. This is the reason why it is so important for local councils across Wales to declare a nature emergency.”
Poppy Stowell-Evans from Newport says: “I’m excited to be voting in these local elections for the first time on the 5th of May. As a Youth Climate Ambassador, I had the chance to attend COP26 last year and ended my experience feeling more determined to be involved in making change happen than I ever have before. The planet needs everyone to use their voice. These local elections give us all a voice, and it’s really important that we as young people make use of them and make clear to the candidates, those who will be running our local authorities, just how vital nature is for all of our futures. The future of the environment is in our hands as young people because, ultimately, our voice is just as important and needed as those we consider to have the ‘power’. My message is, please don’t be afraid to use your voice!”
Action across Wales
Around Wales, a number of local authorities are already taking action to tackle the nature and climate emergencies. At least six of them, Torfaen, the Vale of Glamorgan, Newport, Denbighshire, Carmarthenshire and Cardiff, have already declared a nature emergency. Some of them did so at the same time as declaring a climate emergency.
If a Local Authority declares a Nature Emergency, there is an expectation this would lead to actions aimed at halting and reversing the decline of nature. They can achieve this by helping bees and other pollinators by ceasing to use pesticides on Council owned land, protecting flower-rich roadside verges and by not buying peat compost which destroys global important peat bogs. Local authorities could also adopt nature-based solutions to flooding by assisting in the re-wetting areas, creating green roofs and considering the need for natural flood plains.
If you would like to make a difference for wildlife and you live in Wales, why not take advantage of these local elections to raise these issues with your local candidates? Simply click on the button below to get started!