Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s inaugural Youth Environment Summit Staffordshire (YESS) took place at the County Council buildings in Stafford on Thursday.
Dozens of young people aged between 11 and 21 from all corners of the county spoke up for the environment at the event and discussed hot topics such as climate change, plastic waste and nature reserves.
YESS was organised as part of the Trust’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which take place this year.
Nicola Lynes, organiser of the event from the Trust, said: “It is a very special year for the Trust with it being our 50th anniversary. As well as looking back at what we had achieved since being formed in 1969, we were also very keen to look forward and shine a light on some of the environment issues we’ll face during the next 50.
“There has never been such a crucial time to do this, as the UK’s Environment Act is being re-evaluated and the new Bill is likely to be introduced later this year.
“The Wildlife Trust movement has also just launched a Wilder Future campaign designed to highlight how we all need to do more to save wildlife.
“We were delighted with the quality of the debates and the passion shown by all those involved. We’re hopeful the event will now become an annual one.
“It is imperative organisations like ours listen to young people and provide opportunities for them to be involved with and help shape our Trust’s next 50 years and events like this will allow that to happen."
The event was attended by special guest, BBC The One Show’s Mike Dilger, who was born and bred in the county and is the Trust’s Vice President.
During his opening speech at the event, he 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."
After the event comments from those who took part included: “The day was brilliant and I hope it happens again,” and I enjoyed engaging with other, passionate young people, the event was fantastic! Thank you! I'm so honoured to have been able to help and attend."
Anyone who wishes to watch the debate can do so via https://staffordshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/416887