Roots & Shoots Turkey (Kökler ve Filizler Derneği) aims to contribute to the strengthening of children’s and young people’s knowledge and skills in areas they need through gatherings, workshops, events, and training. The association is receiving grant and capacity-development support from our Institutional Fund, launched in collaboration with the Support Foundation for Civil Society (Sivil Toplum için Destek Vakfı). The association will work to ensure its financial sustainability by increasing the diversity of its resources by fundraising and reaching individual and corporate donors and supporters.
Read below our interview:
It is the first time Roots & Shoots Turkey is receiving grant support from our Institutional Fund. Can you tell us about the aims and activities of your association?
Roots & Shoots is a global movement started by Dr. Jane Goodall in 1991 with the aim of inspiring children and young people to influence their communities and lead change by working for the environment, animals and people. In 2021, we established Roots & Shoots Turkey to create “a planet that embraces all forms of life.” Since our inception, we have been working to support children and young people who recognise the problems in this crisis-ridden era and aspire to create positive change. We implement projects to provide spaces where children and youth can meet people from different disciplines, acquire skills, and develop their own projects.
We carry out these projects based on the principle of participation, aiming to identify the needs and methods for empowering children and youth. For instance, we have developed various learning materials like the “Radix: Ecosystem Adventure” board game and the Biodiversity Village Activity Guide for teachers. We focus on supporting the well-being of children who take action in the fields of nature and climate and empowering adults working with children. For this purpose, we are implementing the Inclusive and Safe Youth Activism project in partnership with the Child Studies Unit of Bilgi University and with the support of Sabancı Foundation Grant Programs.
In 2021, we established Roots & Shoots Turkey to create “a planet that embraces all forms of life.”
To popularise scientific knowledge and provide children and youth with firsthand experiences in science, we organise online and offline activities and workshops that bring them together with people from different disciplines, such as bird and nature observations. In collaboration with the Swedish Consulate, we focus on projects to enhance high school students’ media literacy, source criticism, and social media campaigning skills.
Together with young people from Roots & Shoots Turkey High School and University Groups, we develop and disseminate content on topics they want to discuss and promote, actively supporting them in implementing their projects. Additionally, we organise meetings with Turkish children/youth and their peers from other countries through our global network to facilitate interaction.
To what extent is the participation of young people, children, and civil society organisations ensured in decision-making mechanisms in Turkey? What needs to be done to guarantee and strengthen this participation?
Unfortunately, in decision-making mechanisms in Turkey, we do not see a significant inclusion of children, young people, and CSOs. However, CSOs represent and derive strength from society, and can contribute to the effective functioning of decision-making mechanisms. The direct involvement of children and young people in decision-making mechanisms facilitates the identification of needs and enables the generation of innovative solutions. The inclusion of both CSOs and children and young people in decision-making serves as a bridge. Additionally, it opens up space for everyone to take ownership of the issue and motivates them.
To ensure their participation, it is critical to seek support from organisations in the field of child rights and child participation, develop mechanisms that enable children to express themselves and create safe spaces. This requires collaboration from CSOs, academics, experts, and decision-makers.
The direct involvement of children and young people in decision-making mechanisms facilitates the identification of needs and enables the generation of innovative solutions.
The struggle for rights and activities in the field of environment and ecology concerns the entire society and receives significant support. Considering the magnitude and urgency of the threat posed by climate change, do you think these issues are being addressed sufficiently? Are there steps that can be taken in this regard?
Climate change is a crisis that requires urgent action. For this reason, in recent years, many CSOs have shifted their focus to combating climate change, and in addition, CSOs working exclusively in this field have been established.
There is a high level of awareness among CSOs on this issue, and this awareness is being disseminated among the public. However, in the face of such a significant threat, these efforts sometimes remain insufficient. When there is not enough collaboration with decision-makers, it is hard to take action, and reduction and adaptation processes may slow down or even stop. Therefore, it is necessary to increase interactions among CSOs and interactions with decision-makers through collaboration. Allowing CSOs to be part of decision-making mechanisms is crucial.
With the increasing visibility of threats arising from climate change, awareness-raising campaigns are gaining momentum. Particularly, youth-led movements have been successful in drawing the attention of companies and governments. In your opinion, are the necessary steps being taken in Türkiye in this regard?
The role of young people in raising awareness about climate change cannot be ignored. A global movement started with the actions of individuals like Greta Thunberg and Jasilyn Charger. This movement quickly found its place in Türkiye, with young people forming communities in various cities. Since 2018, they have been explaining the crisis and its impact, and voicing demands. They organise campaigns, give trainings, and push for participation in decision-making mechanisms.
Children and young people undoubtedly capture the attention of companies, governments, decision-makers, CSOs, and individuals through their activism; however, they need support. They are already experiencing the adverse consequences of climate change and will have to fight even harder in the future. This is a long and challenging struggle. It is essential to support them by providing the necessary knowledge, skills, and protection against the destructive effects of eco-anxiety.
Children and young people undoubtedly capture the attention of companies, governments, decision-makers, CSOs, and individuals through their activism; however, they need support.
Ignoring the destructive consequences of climate change will no longer be possible, and mandatory reduction and adaptation efforts will become inevitable. Steps are being taken in this direction both globally and in Türkiye. We believe that through collaboration with young people and CSOs, the process will accelerate.
Which organisational and capacity development areas are you focusing on with the grant support of our Institutional Fund?
As we approach our second anniversary, we have identified financial sustainability as our priority. With this grant support, we aim to increasingly rely on the support of our donors, thus enabling our association to carry out projects aligned with our vision and mission independently and with our own resources. We believe that through a regular donor program, our financial planning will become more sustainable, resulting in a stronger organisational structure. In this context, we plan to create a financial model based on individual and regular donations under the guidance of fundraising experts to ensure our financial sustainability.
About Roots & Shoots Turkey
Roots & Shoots Turkey aims to contribute to the strengthening of children’s and young people’s knowledge and skills in areas they need through meetings, workshops, events, and training. The association also works on raising awareness of children’s rights to prevent risks such as bullying, violation of privacy, commercial exploitation, and tokenism that children and young people may face.