We are please to share our report on the Round table that was held on Thursday 29th October 2021.

The roundtable VOYAGE Youth organised on the 28th of October 2021 brought together over 30 environmental charities and businesses to present and discuss the key challenges and issues to diversifying the environment sector, with special regards to young black people. We split the roundtable into two breakout rooms: in one we presented and discussed key elements of our Young Leaders for Sustainable Cities course; in the other young people shared their perceptions and barriers to the green movement and careers.
State of the sector

Globally, the West has alienated black people from environmental organisations by putting blame on countries in the South, without looking at the colonial past. Power, privilege and colonisation still have a knock on effect today and countries with a colonial past suffer from a lack of resources and infrastructure and struggle to adapt to climate change.

  • The sector has a eurocentric view on the world.
  • Environmental organisations do not know the right recruitment circles for employing black people.
  • Unpaid internships and work experience are a barrier to getting into the sector.

Changing the Culture

  • Protesting as a form of environmental action and campaigning and getting arrested is not a suitable form of action, because of the distrustful relation with the police.
  • Communication and story-telling will empower young people to share their story and will be examples for other black people to join the movement. This should not only be used in relation to race and discrimination to avoid tokenism.
  • The Young Leaders for Sustainability Cities course will have a strong focus on empowering young people through active learning. The course should also include economics as this drives the destruction of the environment and is about power and who is in charge.
  • A lack of support for black people in predominantly white organisations makes young black people feel inadequate and not welcome. A barrier is having to adapt to the culture of the organisation, rather than feeling welcome in a shared space.
  • For young black people to be able to speak out, space and opportunities need to be created to do so.

Increasing Diverse Access

Good representation in the industry will inspire and draw young black people into the movement. Uplift black voices from the environment and climate movement that are already there, but are not represented in mainstream media. This is also one of the aims of the course.

  • Create employability schemes, paid work experience and scholarships specifically for young black people.
  • Training for organisations is needed to bring in and to retain people of colour.
  • Actively seek out young people of colour by collaborating with organisations such as VOYAGE Youth that have access to the community as well as expertise.
  • Tapping into black networks of young and aspiring black professionals, such as University African and Caribbean Societies and Black Geographers will help to recruit people into the sector.

If there is one thing we can conclude from this roundtable, it is that diversifying the green sector is a challenging process that requires continuous input from and dialogue between environmental charities, businesses and the black community. Diversifying the sector will provide both young black people and the green sector with opportunities to make a difference. At VOYAGE we aim to support this process in any way we can to effectively bring young people of colour into green jobs, spaces and action.

Thank you to all participants. We honour everyone’s interest, enthusiasm and input and we welcome your ongoing input and participation. To continue the dialogue, please complete and share our survey within and outside of your organisation.

 

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