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Nature and Childhood - Change at Scale

How movements such as the #NatureForAll campaign are helping future generations experience, care about and protect our environment

Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash

Oscar Tollast | 10.03.2018

It’s better to move forward than standing still. By building partnerships across sectors, change can be enacted quicker and reach more people. When considering smart actions for nature-based solutions, however, one has to recognize whether approaches can work in different regions and cultures.

#NatureForAll’s goal is to support and action for nature conservation globally. This work includes raising awareness of nature and its values and creating a culture of conservation. Karen Keenleyside, vice chair for people and parks, IUCN WCPA, suggests the more people connected with nature, the more they support it. Quoting British broadcaster and conservationist, David Attenborough, Keenleyside said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” 

The movement already has 230 partner organizations and is growing week-by-week. Partners sign up by expressing interest, identifying their contribution, and pledging to take work forward. #NatureForAll is raising awareness, facilitating experiences, and creating pathways to connecting. Keenleyside said the movement provided an opportunity for organizations to speak with a united voice. It is creating a billion moments to fall in love with nature.

Small moments and actions can lead to significant change. Heather Maseko, a response coordinator for Peace Corps Malawi and co-founder of the National Youth Network on Climate Change, has witnessed this first-hand. Maseko reaffirmed how we, as individuals, have different interests, skill sets, and expertise.

In her experience, Maseko discussed the benefits of bringing in partners during campaigns and projects to provide expertise and resources they otherwise didn’t have. In a presentation at Salzburg Global Seminar, she posed the question: How do we move out of our bubble to make meaningful, holistic engagements?

Effective communication is perhaps one of way doing so. It can involve the language, tools, platforms, or strategies used. In her experience, the media helped amplify messages concerning young people and climate change, according to Maseko. Despite their differences, this was one area outlets united and helped share the message the movement put across.

Cath Prisk, global partnerships director at Project Dirt, is heading the global campaign Outdoor Classroom Day. Working in partnership with Dirt is Good (Unilever), the campaign is delivered locally by teachers, for teachers. So far, 304,165 children and 2,872 schools have been involved. Prisk suggests the movement is about thinking global, acting global, and being part of a global unit. By working with others, they want to help more children experience “real play” every day.

Adrian Voce, president of the European Network of Child Friendly Cities, believes a child’s impulse to play is essential to their nature. They have an evolutionary impulse to enjoy their lives in the present. If children are to grow up with a sense of identity and belonging, according to Voce, they must have access to nature on their terms.

When advocating for children’s rights, however, Voce conceded parents’ wants and needs had to be respected too. Many parents do not feel the outside world is safe enough, which makes it important for play advocates to encourage parents to trust their instincts and recognize the value play carries for the present and the future.

Download Issue 2 of Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change

Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change is the fourth session of the multi-year series, Parks for the Planet Forum. The Forum is hosted with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in partnership with the Children and Nature Network, the National League of Cities (NLC) and Outdoor Classroom Day. More information on the session can be found here. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #SGSparks. 


Oscar Tollast