YESS - Youth Environment Summit Staffordshire

YESS - Youth Environment Summit Staffordshire

YESS Sponsors

Speaking up for the environment!

The Youth Environmental Summit-Staffordshire (YESS) was the first of its kind, a place for young people to debate environmental issues that were important to them, to meet experts in the environmental field, and give their opinions on how to protect our wonderful nature and wildlife in Staffordshire. 

The event took place on Thursday 11th April 2019 within the Council Chambers  at County Building Stafford where our county councillors debate issues and make decisions and all young people from schools, colleges, universities, and other youth groups are invited to take part!

Mike Dilger

Campaigning for a Wilder Future

Wildlife and wild places are under threat. In the last 50 years, 56% of all species have declined across the UK, we are largely to blame. Our YESS Youth Environmental Summit offered a talking point of how we can create a Wilder Future and allowed for key environmental issues to be debated. You can read more on our Wilder Staffordshire campaign here

Suggestions put forward from atendees will be considered and help form Staffordshire Wildlife Trusts business strategy that is being rewritten in 2019. 

Wilder Future pledges

Pledges made by attendees on how they were going to help create a Wilder Staffordshire 

Wilder Staffordshire campaign

Who took part?

Young people aged 11-21 from Staffordshire entered the debate. Individuals and Schools could enter up to 8 young people to take part in the debate and two members of staff. Everyone was encouraged to write a speech for each debate for the best chance of taking part.

Debates will be taking place in the morning with workshops running in the afternoon for participants to get involved in. 

You can find out further information by downloading the YESS Event Information Booklet below

Southern Staffordshire Community Energy

The event is sponsored by Southern Staffordshire Community Energy. We would like to thank them for their support in making this event possible. You can find out more about them here 

Event Information Booklet

YESS Workshops
Mike Dilger

*Special guest Mike Dilger*

We were pleased to announce that ecologist, writer and broadcaster, Mike Dilger was a judge on the panel for the debate as well as him taking part in the workshops during the afternoon. You may recognise him from BBC's The One show! 

During his opening speech at the event, Mike said: “We live in one of the most nature depleted countries on earth - a stark statistic. I want my child to have the childhood I had, spending days outside seeing all sorts of different wildlife and in a world of infinite possibilities.The biggest challenge we have these days is getting the next generation of young people to appreciate a wilder future. Nature now has to compete in a crowded market these days and is up against things like social media and computer games, but what gives me hope is the young people here today."

Watch it

You can watch a recording of YESS below. The footage shows the debates that were held in the morning of the event with the attendees giving some inspiring and empowering answers! A recording of the event has been made possible thanks to JCB sponsoring the webcast filming.  


The debates

There was five debates in total up for discussion on the day, each lasting 15 minutes.

Each school submitted Debate Leads who opened and closed each debate. There was a prize for the best school team and individuals, as decided by the judges. Sir Graham Balfour was the team winner and the two individual winners were Harvey from Westwood College, and Francesca from Erasmus Darwin Academy.

The debates were judged by a panel of councillors and experts; Aimee Louise Booth (filmographer and Twitch presenter), Richard Higgs (Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Chairman), Mike Dilger (broadcaster, naturalist, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Vice President) and Judith Smith (Chair of Staffordshire Business & Environment Network) with the chair Elliott Lancaster (Trustee Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Managing Director Utter Rubbish Ltd) having a casting vote in the case of a tie. The judges considered the speech given (focusing on the clarity of the argument) and how well it was presented.

YESS School winners

Sir Graham Balfour, YESS School team winners

Youth Summit Staffordshire

The debate topics

See below for the list of topics that were up for debate on the day

Plastic waste

Debate topic 1

Plastic waste and recycling is the responsibility of businesses and local authorities in Staffordshire.

Keep of the grass

Debate topic 2

People should not be allowed to access nature reserves, as they are managed for the benefit of wildlife.

Climate change

Debate topic 3

Climate change is the most important environmental issue facing young people of Staffordshire today.


Debate topic 4

The best way to ensure Staffordshire has a thriving landscape rich in wildlife is through reintroduction and re-wilding programmes.

Renewable energy

Debate topic 5

It should be the responsibility of residents in Staffordshire to reduce their use of fossil fuels, and to increase their use of renewable energy.

Why did we run the event?

To give young people a chance to speak up on environmental issues that matter in front of local decision makers as well as offer a chance for them to gain and develop debating skills.

By running the workshops, young people could give their opinion on what the priorities of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust should be to help the Trust form their business strategy (which is getting a revamp at the end of the year) and let local businesses and decision makers know their views about the environment in Staffordshire.  These young people are the ambassadors of ensuring a wilder future. 

There has never been a more crucial time to do this, as the UK's Environmental Act is getting re-evaluated and a new Bill is to be introduced later this year. This was a chance for young people to have their say on environmental issues that matter in helping us create a #WilderStaffordshire


To give young people the opportunity to meet with some of the local councillors, charities and businesses who work in the environmental sector.

Schools received a one years’ free membership to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust allowing us to form relationships with schools in the local area and get them more engaged in wildlife and wild places.

The most important part of the debate was to have fun! We wanted to hear what the attendees had to say about environmental issues, but wanted them to gain new skills and enjoy themselves whilst taking part.

Youth Summit

This event was made possible by kind support from Veolia, University of Wolverhampton, sben, SCVYS, JCB, Michelin, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, Southern Staffordhsire Community Energy and Staffordshire County Council. Find out more about the event sponsors here