Roots and Shoots Awards Celebrate Young Activists

Ahead of today’s student climate strikes, we joined Dr. Jane Goodall at London’s Barbican for Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots Awards to celebrate the achievements of young people campaigning, raising money, and making positive changes to help people, animals and the environment.

Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programme is a powerful, youth-driven network that connects tens of thousands of young people that have a common desire to help make the world a better place. Operating in almost 100 countries around the world, charitable organisation Roots & Shoots is about making positive change happen – for communities, animals, and the environment, enabling young people to come together and share ideas and implement community projects.

The annual Awards are a celebration of the achievements of the Roots & Shoots groups who’ve campaigned, researched, raised money, made positive changes, raised awareness and worked as teams and individuals to help people, animals and the environment.

“Every year at the annual Roots & Shoots Awards in the UK I feel so much hope and receive so much inspiration,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, who presented the awards and delivered a powerful and inspiring speech.  “Today students from 11 locations selected from the 2,000 groups who are part of our global Roots & Shoots programme shared their amazing projects.”

“It was great that Livia Firth could be with us to judge the ‘Trashion Show’,” she added, referring to St Christopher’s C of E School’s upcycled fashion show, for which Livia was a judge. Students modelled the looks they had designed and made from only recycled/re-used materials and components, all of which were inspired by the issues derived from unrecyclable waste and the damage of our environment.

“Roots & Shoots is an outstanding example of how important it is to start galvanising children from a very early stage and inspire them to be our leaders of tomorrow,” says Livia. 

Dr. Jane said that young people of Roots & Shoots give her the greatest hopes for the future.  “People say to me, ‘Jane, do you really have hopes for the future?’”, Dr Jane said in her speech during the event.  “Because I’ve seen forests across Africa and Asia and Latin America destroyed; I’ve seen populations grow and move further and further into the natural world; I’ve seen the terrible pollution of air, water and land;  I’ve seen the oceans covered in plastic; and I’ve seen so many animal species either gone forever, or very very endangered today. And so people say, ‘well do you really have hope?’ And I think all those people who say ‘do you really have hope’, if they’d been here today, if they’d had a chance to speak to the young people of Roots & Shoots, they would understand exactly why I have hope for the future.”

“What’s most important is that we start thinking about the fact that every single day we live, every one of us, we make some impact on the planet,” she said. “And we get a choice about what sort of impact we make – what did we buy, where did it come from, how was it made, did it harm the environment, did it result in cruelty to animals on some of the intensive animal farms, is that why its cheap? Is this clothing cheap because of child slave labour or sweatshops? If we start making ethical decisions, our own little ethical decisions might not seem very important, but when there are millions and then billions of people thinking about the effect of their daily life on future generations then we can have real hope about the kind of world we’re going to move into, for you young people to grow up into.

“A lot of young children are changing the way their parents behave, I meet it again and again. We’ve all got to get involved in whatever way we can. Nature is amazingly resilient. We can destroy a place and with time then nature will reclaim it and it will once again become beautiful. Which is so lucky because we have destroyed so much beauty.”


Read more of Dr. Jane Goodall’s best quotes and why she is one of our inspiring women change-makers.