Last year saw the publication of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP), bringing to life the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. Chapter 3 of the plan is all about connecting people to the environment for their health and well-being, and includes a commitment to make 2019 a year of action for the environment.  This initiative is aimed at both raising awareness and turning it into practical action - encouraging more people and organisations to participate in environmental projects and make informed choices about the impacts of their consumer behaviours. The year has 3 key themes – connect, protect and enhance – and starts from the simple premise that spending more time in the natural world fosters a desire to take steps to protect and enhance it.

Working through partners and using our website and social media, we have been promoting actions which encourage engagement with wildlife, and conserve the natural world. As well as showcasing great green action from stakeholders across the country, we’re developing a series of ‘top tips for greener living’ for the website and showing how they contribute to the delivery of the 25 YEP. We’ve partnered with the youth social action charity, Step Up To Serve, on their #iwill4nature campaign, and their #iwill ambassadors, alongside our own Year of Green Action (YoGA) ambassadors, have been powerful advocates for pro-environmental action.

We know from recent Ipso Mori polls that the environment is – for the first time – considered by the public to be one of the top 3 priorities for government, and we have an opportunity, through YoGA engagement, to offer ways for the public to take positive action in response to the challenges we all face. Movements like Extinction Rebellion and the climate strikes have given a higher profile to environmental threats and the role of activism – YoGA gives us a platform to translate that concern and urgency into positive action.

The YoGA is our main public communications vehicle for the 25 YEP, a chance to talk directly to the public about the actions they can take in their homes, gardens, workplaces and schools to contribute to 25 YEP ambitions for thriving plants and wildlife, clean and plentiful water and tackling climate change. We’ve attended a wide range of public events and have been collecting pledges for behaviour change with a target of 5,000 for the year. The pledges have ranged from using less plastic to going vegan or setting up a community litter picking group.

As well as wider public engagement, we would like to work more closely with the business sector and encourage businesses to make public pledges for YoGA, which we can showcase on our website and include in social media campaigns, particularly around the BEIS Green Great Britain Week (4-8 November). Green GB Week this year will have different themes for each day:

  •          buildings of the future on Monday
  •          clean transport on Tuesday
  •          avoiding and reducing waste on Wednesday
  •          clean tech on Thursday
  •          community action on Friday

So we are looking for business pledges which tie in with these themes and may offer opportunities for Ministerial visits and joint BEIS/Defra comms.

The goals of the 25 YEP will not be achieved by government alone, and business has a critical role to play in influencing consumer choice, greening operations and making more sustainable supply chain choices. We would love to hear what you are doing to contribute to the Year of Green Action!

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

About the Author

The government’s 25 year environment plan set out to deliver our manifesto commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. The plan identifies 10 goals to improve the environment within a generation, including clean air and water, thriving plants and wildlife, and healthy and productive seas. The plan also recognises that people need to feel connected to the natural world in order to value and want to take steps to care for it, and declares 2019 a year of action for the environment. The purpose of the year is a call to action, for people from all backgrounds, to join together to connect with nature and play their part in protecting and enhancing our environment. We are achieving this by developing networks and providing a focal point for action. We are leading and supporting a number of events throughout the year which provide opportunities for individuals and organisations to connect with and enhance the natural world. We are championing the goals of the 25 year environment plan, encouraging everyone to engage with and value nature, and recognising achievements while driving further commitments to achieve a better environment for all.