Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Environment Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.



We want Aotearoa to be a world leader in mobilising action against climate change. We strongly endorse the implementation of the Zero Carbon Act and call upon the New Zealand Government to adopt more ambitious short-term targets under the Paris Agreement. New Zealand’s Emission Trading Scheme must also be reformed to balance environmental and economic concerns and enhance accountability. We recommend the inclusion of agriculture in the scheme and the restriction of offshore carbon credits.


We acknowledge the signifcance of agriculture to Aotearoa’s economy but its detrimental consequences require urgent action. We advocate for the cessation of agricultural expansion and dairy intensification. We recommend a shift in focus to enhancing agricultural efficiency and adopting more sustainable farming practices in line with circular economy. To enable this transition, we encourage greater government support and funding in collaboration with industry and iwi stakeholders.


We recognise our responsibility as kaitiaki of Aotearoa’s biodiversity and the need to simultaneously protect our economy and national identity. We urge the preservation of native species and vulnerable ecosystems through increased funding towards the success of collaborative programmes such as Predator Free 2050. We strongly support the inclusive creation of new national parks and networks of marine reserves. This includes the increased protection of Great Barrier and creation of the Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary.


We encourage New Zealand’s transition to a circular economy and believe New Zealanders and businesses must be better enabled to adopt a zero waste paradigm. In order to achieve this, we urge the Government to:

  1. Eliminate single use plastics following a similar process to the banning of microbeads in New Zealand;
  2. Increase waste minimisation funding and subsidies;
  3. Mandate the composting or donation of surplus food from businesses.

We demand a clean energy future for Aotearoa where diverse, culturally appropriate resource development is embraced at both the regional and national level. The transition towards 100% renewable electricity production is urgent, particularly a focus on increasing solar and wind infrastructure. We promote the use and subsidisation of local energy technologies such as micro wind turbines and solar systems positioned in public spaces as educational mechanisms for enhancing public engagement with sustainability issues.


We endorse the Environmental Education for Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan 2017-2021 and urge that strong governance is provided to enable progress and measure impact. We particularly support programmes such as Enviroschools which provide opportunities for experiential learning. We encourage a holistic approach which emphasises engagement with a diversity of perspectives, including mātauranga Māori.


We call on the Government to increase investment in infrastructure that supports and enables low carbon transport options. We want to see reliable public and shared transport alternatives, promotion of the cycle-share programme and implementation of safer bike lanes.


We urge the Government to increase research and development of low carbon fuel alternatives and the implementation of electric vehicles and other sustainable alternatives.


An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Danielle and Hanna, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.


Download the 2018 Youth Declaration


5 Exciting Outcomes of the Paris Climate Agreement So Far

Today’s saturation of bad news and its constant reminders of our “impending doom”, has undoubtedly created a worldwide need for reassurance and progress. One ground-breaking leap forward for the planet was the formation of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Created within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the accord is committed to igniting international response and action. The overall goal is to limit global warming to well-below 2 degrees this century, while also improving the ability of countries to manage the forthcoming impacts.


SG delivers remarks at the closing ceremony of COP21


Despite Trump’s internationally criticised withdrawal in June 2017, the agreement is driving the incredible change vital to our world’s survival. So, to help restore your faith in humanity and lift some spirits, here are 5 examples from across the globe of the Paris Agreement in action.

  1.   France became the first country in the world to make it illegal to produce or drill for oil and gas in the country and its overseas territories. They are working towards closing all coal-fired power plants by 2021 – two years earlier than initially planned. Along with shutting their oil and gas productions down, France will also be banning the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040.
  2. India is also making incredible progress under the Paris Agreement. Last June, more than 1.5 million volunteers came together to plant 66 million trees in just under 12 hours! In this record-breaking bid to fight climate change, over 20 different sapling species were planted along the Narmada river. As the third largest carbon emissions producer in the world, India is working towards increasing its forests by 5 million hectares before 2030.
  3. Following the Paris Agreement, over 100 cities across the globe are now predominantly powered by renewable energy! A report published by environmental impact research organization CPD in February this year, states that there are currently 40 cities operating on 100% clean energy. The data also shows that the number of cities getting 70% of their total electricity supply from renewable energy (one of which is Auckland!) has more than doubled since 2015. As CDP director, Kyra Appleby,  states “Cities not only want to shift to renewable energy but, most importantly – they can”
  4. In Germany, free public transport has been proposed to help to reduce road traffic and combat pollution. Before the year is up, Germany will have tested this proposal in five cities across the country, which includes the old capital Bonn. The most successful measures will then be implemented in all other cities affected by pollution.
  5. Twelve major cities will be buying only zero-emission buses from 2025, while also making major areas within their boundaries free of fossil fuel emissions by 2030. These cities – which include Paris, London, Cape Town and Auckland – are creating tougher environmental targets to acknowledge the urgency of achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals. Striving to curb greenhouse gas emissions, these cities will promote walking, cycling and public transport, while also creating more parks, pedestrian zones and roads only for electric cars.

Don’t lose hope on humanity just yet. If these examples of progress prove anything, it’s that when people unite, powerful change happens.


By Laura Weir