How One Australian Ocean Hero got her Local Council to Declare a Climate Emergency

This month, we're featuring Steph, an Ocean Hero who's making waves in her community with her campaign to declare a climate emergency in Northern Beaches! Check out her story below:

On the 27th of August, I had the opportunity to speak at the Northern Beaches Local Council Meeting to convince them to vote to declare a Climate Emergency. Earlier in August I met Nigel from the Northern Beaches Climate Action Group when I was asked to speak there. He asked me to speak at the Local Council meeting to voice the opinions of youth.

To achieve this we focused on support from the local community. We promoted the meeting and possible declaration to the local community and asked them to attend the meeting. Nigel put me in touch with the Greens member for our council who helped to put me on the speaker list for the public forum.

For me the campaign centered around the speech. The speech was only confirmed the day before the meeting so I had approximately 24 hours to write the speech after returning from a 3 day hiking trip! The purpose of my speech was to give a voice to the youth in my community and convey why we wanted the councillors to declare a climate emergency.

Here is the link to my speech:

The reaction was overwhelming and unexpected. I brought the audience to tears and received a standing ovation. The motion was passed with 10 out of 12 votes for. From this they pledged to create and present a plan to the council within 3 months about what they can do to mitigate the impact of climate change and how to work with other levels of government to do so. This declaration was an incredible achievement for the Northern Beaches and following the declaration I am looking forward to seeing what action the council plans to undertake.

We plan to hold the council accountable for their actions by continuing petitions, speaking at their meetings, and writing letters. Although these are simple actions, they have proven to be successful so far due to the amount of support from the local community who want to hold the council to their promises.

Sara Richards, who spoke before me, presented a petition with over 2,000 signatures and will be asking the council to meet the below criteria contained within the petition.

I was so grateful for the opportunity to be involved in a policy change and wouldn’t have had the opportunity without my organization and team, Seas of Change ( Running my organization brings me so much joy and I am looking forward to sharing this success with other youth in our upcoming campaigns to help inspire them about the power they have to make a change!

To find out more about myself and Seas of Change follow us on instagram @seasofchange_au and subscribe to our newsletter.

Massive thank you to the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp for providing me with the knowledge and confidence to make a tangible change.

My advice to other youth would be to make yourself aware of how your levels of government operate and how you can have your say. I would also say that networking is one of the most important things! Be nice to everyone you meet and keep in contact. I met Nigel through a lady I met two years ago at a conference! Finally, have the confidence to just give it a crack. I've gained so much from saying 'yes' to this opportunity and couldn't recommend it more!

- Steph