Over 80% of young people eager to take action to help the environment, new survey says

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Children and young people (aged 8-15) would like to do more to help look after the environment, according to new national statistics published by Natural England.

The Children’s People and Nature Survey asked a ‘younger and nationally representative sample’ to report on their thoughts and feelings about environmental protection, as well as wider topics such as what they enjoy most about nature and what prevents them from getting outdoors.

Nearly 8 in 10 of the 8-15 year-olds who took part in the study (78%) agreed that looking after the environment was important to them, and more than 8 in 10 (81%) said they wanted to do more to look after the environment.

Crucially ahead of COP26, 46% of those surveyed do not think adults are doing enough to protect the environment (an increase of 7% since last year).

Marian Spain, Chief Executive, Natural England commented on the announcement: “The message is clear: children and young people care deeply about the natural environment and are eager to act.

“With COP26 just around the corner, we must seize on this as an opportunity to make lasting change in what will be a crucial year for the environment.

“The research also shows that not all children have the same opportunities to enjoy nature.

“We need to heed the call of future generations and ensure that children and young people – wherever they live and whatever their background – can access good quality green spaces close to home – and reap the benefits to health, wellbeing and quality of life that being in nature brings to us all.”

Other key findings of the study included:

  • Those spending time outside at least once a week were more likely to rate their anxiety as ‘low’.
  • Most (96%) children and young people spent time outdoors beyond the garden at least once during the week. This did not vary based on gender, ethnicity, or income.
  • Despite the pandemic, just 16% said anxiety about coronavirus stopped them from spending more time outside.
  • More than 8 in 10 (85%) children and young people agreed that being in nature made them very happy. White children were also more likely to agree that being in nature made them very happy (86%) than black children (75%).

According to Natural England, the responses were collected from 2,048 children and young people aged 8-to-15 between the 10th and 31st August 2021.

An infographic showcasing the survey’s key findings and the full Children’s People and Nature Survey report, as well as released data and summary tables are available on the UK Government website.