Greenifying the Young Liberals
By Oliver Jones-Lyons
My Mission as Youth Officer, Part 1:
Greenifying the Young Liberals
At the first meeting of the new young liberal executive, I sat (by virtue of my new position as Social Mobility Representative) and watched the future leaders of our political movement deliberate what our organisation would look like over the year ahead. During the overarching strategy discussion I chipped in and noted that the Green Liberal Democrats are making an open offer to our friends in the Young Liberals to work together to ensure that the Young Liberals are setting the standard for the rest of the party yet again. This time on the matter of becoming an "Operationally Green" party body.
YL is bustling with talent and has done some really great work over the last few years. Whether it be Katharine Macy and her work on the Young Carers motion, with a message which has since been put at the heart of our party under Ed Davey, Caitlin Richardson who used her role as YL Trans Rep to become a vocal defender of Trans Rights within the party or the work of CULA in outing transphobic councillors and getting more Lib Dems elected. This is an organisation that is gaining great traction within the party, that is getting people elected and is ultimately an integral cog in the party machine.
So, I am proposing that we use this energy, enthusiasm and talent to tackle one of the biggest issues facing young people today: The emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss. In the subsequent article in this two-part series, I will detail what work we, in the Green Liberal Democrats, are doing to ensure young people are represented in our organisation and that we use this energy, but this article is about discussing what the Young Liberals (as well as other party bodies) can do to make a difference here as they have on so many other issues.
The Young Liberals can make a difference by becoming what I am calling "Operationally Green". This is a term that requires some definition, in my view for an organisation to be operationally green it must be a stated priority of said organisation to incorporate into every aspect of their operation an active consideration for the positive impact the organisation can have on the environment. Now, to be clear I am not calling for a bureaucratic step to be added into the Young Liberals executive regulations calling for "every decision to give due consideration to the environment", this would be wasteful bureaucracy for an organisation of this form. What I am calling for is a positive commitment across the entire executive to constructively engage with the green agenda, but also the impact that our campaigning can have.
To give some examples of what can be done. When I look at the Young Liberal policy book, I notice that it's not as full in the environmental section as say it is in many other sections. This is not to devalue the great policy work we do, but perhaps we can be doing more. Perhaps, we can make use of the new online policy making format to make sure we have more environmental policy where we can push the party to do better. I also look to our campaigns, can we be running more campaigns on issues of monumental importance to our generation? I also look to our brilliant regional and branch structure, can we be using our influence in regional, state and local parties across the country to ensure we are taking our carbon footprint, paper usage and other important negative impacts of our environment into account? We already have good examples of this work, take Thom Campion and his work to try and ensure every North East local party plants a tree for every focus edition.
The Young Liberals have great infrastructure in place which puts them in a prime position to set a standard for other party bodies to follow, I am making an open offer to the Young Liberal executive today to work on a green action plan, including the new English, Welsh and Scottish Young Liberal executives as they start work too. Let's do more!