Young Sea Changers Scotland launches

New charity launches nationwide opportunity to train the next wave of ocean advocates

Young Sea Changers Scotland, a dynamic new charity dedicated to training the next generation of marine advocates, is poised to make a splash as it launches across Scotland this month.

Young Sea Changers Scotland (YSCS) was set up to address a shocking lack of young people participating in formal discussions and decision-making processes affecting how our seas are managed for the future. In a 2018 survey of young people across Scotland, around 79% agreed that Scotland’s seas should be protected, yet just over 46% said they did not feel informed about the issues affecting Scotland’s seas. The survey also found that young people, unsurprisingly, did not believe their views are well represented in decision making.

The organisation’s Founder & Director, Alan Munro, recognised a clear need for a dedicated platform to equip young people with the skills and confidence to speak up.

YSCS will launch with a new training programme to do just that. ‘Turning the Tide- a new capacity building and development programme - will empower a cohort of 16-25 year olds to engage in marine policy and advocacy. The online course will be open to young people across Scotland, no matter their location, proximity to the coast or previous knowledge of marine issues, recognising that the health of our seas affects us all.

And this year is only the beginning; YSCS hopes to train at least 15 young people every year and build a Scotland-wide community of young ocean advocates to kickstart a new era of marine policy-making with the younger generation front and centre.

And this couldn’t come at a better time; the Scottish Government will soon be asking the public their views on a new National Marine Plan 2 - a potentially visionary roadmap for Scotland's seas over the next decade. Scientific evidence warns that the health of Scotland’s seas is continuing to decline. In 2023, the landmark State of Nature report highlighted that competition for marine space and resources is at an unprecedented level and, coupled with climate change, Scotland’s marine wildlife and habitats are increasingly under threat.

As the custodians of our future seas, young people’s voices are more important than ever.

Alan Munro, YSCS Founder and Director, says: “Including young people’s views in marine policy decisions seems to me to be a no-brainer, especially as they have a long-term stake in the health of our seas. However, what I have found is that lack of confidence to participate in seemingly complex conversations around marine issues has been a major barrier.

YSCS is going to offer young people an opportunity to learn the practical skills that will enable them to enter a room full of policy makers or marine ‘experts’, contributing their valuable perspectives to share the future of our seas.

Through workshops, mentorship, and hands-on experiences, YSCS aims to empower the next generation of marine advocates.”

Caitlin Turner, YSCS Trustee, says: “As a young person active in marine conservation - and particularly policy - I’m all too familiar with the barriers to engaging with policy making and policy makers, and the frustration felt in oftentimes being shut out. Young people are incredibly passionate, knowledgeable and in-tune with the issues contributing to climate change and biodiversity loss, but we’re due to inherit a future we’re getting very little say in. We need a seat at the table, to help shape a greener, more equitable and just future for us all.

“That’s why YSCS is so important. By supporting young people in developing their knowledge and advocacy skills, empowering them to take action, and providing pathways to engage with policy, YSCS will ensure that young voices are heard, and that the tide will finally turn.”

Chris Leakey, YSCS Advisor and Marine Sustainability Manager at NatureScot, says:

“Right now, the decisions we make about the way we use and support Scotland's seas are vital, as we tackle the global climate and nature crises. Young people will live with the consequences of today's decisions, so YSCS aims to give them the stronger, more informed voice they deserve.”

Young Sea Changers Scotland invites the next generation to turn the tide towards a healthier and more sustainable future for Scotland's seas.