Ettie Shattock, the SNH Partnership Officer at Young Scot, reflects on the Co-design partnership between SNH and Scotland’s national youth information and citizenship charity.
SNH and Young Scot have been working in partnership since 2016 to engage young people in Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy and Route Map to 2020. Using a co-design approach, they established Scotland’s Youth Biodiversity Panel, ReRoute, which is made up of 15 young volunteers aged 13-24 from across the country. ReRoute aims to engage more young people in Scotland’s amazing nature, landscapes and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
Co-design was not something that I was familiar with when I started working for Young Scot. Whilst supporting ReRoute and SNH to use this approach, I’ve experienced the many benefits of including young people in decision making processes and in creating ideas and solutions to things in their lives. This means that the young people have been able to identify issues that affect them as well as work with and challenge the organisations who can make changes to address these issues. ReRoute have had the opportunity to work with SNH staff, including their senior management and leadership teams in order to understand what SNH currently do and identify future opportunities together.
ReRoute investigated young people’s opinions and understandings of biodiversity and nature in Scotland in order to get a clear understanding of any issues that could be addressed. Their insight briefing from a survey they conducted with over 1000 young people demonstrates that young people in Scotland do care, and are passionate, about their natural environment. The survey gave ReRoute and SNH an understanding of what would encourage young people to enjoy the outdoors more often and this feedback is informing the digital information articles and content that they are now creating to engage young people in the topic.
I am excited to see ReRoute’s ideas develop. Some of the topics in the Route Map such as natural capital or peatland restoration may be difficult to link to young people’s lives, yet the group members are exploring creative and innovative ways of doing this with SNH. This is what Co-design is all about – working collaboratively to identify issues, test out ideas and re-develop them with both young people and SNH to find the most effective approaches.
Young Scot has provided ReRoute members with a unique opportunity to develop their skills, confidence and experiences as young people but it has also empowered them to be challengers, questioners and creators for all young people in Scotland. Furthermore, they have been able to access and work with organisations and SNH staff who are at the centre of decision making and information sharing for the natural environment in Scotland.