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Selecting our first Young Advisory Team.

10 Jun 2024

Our Children/Youth Advisor Katie Reid shares some insights on the selection process of our first Young Advisory Team.

Across the world, children and young people are standing up for their rights and leading different types of climate action such as taking legal action, protesting, or taking action at home, school, in the community, and online.  

We are a global team of researchers for the Youth Climate Justice project at University College Cork in Ireland. We are taking a rights-based, intergenerational approach to explore how justice systems can be made more child-friendly and how children and young people are influencing law and human rights through their climate action leadership on a global scale.  

Part of this approach involves working with different advisors – including children and young people themselves. Applying learning from other research projects with young research advisors, we expect to have three different cohorts of Young Advisors across the project's five-year duration.  

For this first stage of the research, twelve Young Advisors aged 8 – 17 will work with our team to help us understand what child rights-based research should look and feel like for children and young people involved. This will include helping us to: 

  • fine-tune our research questions; 
  • design and test what methods and materials we use to best answer these questions; 
  • make sure children feel clear about what their participation in the research is for, and what we are setting out to explore as researchers;  
  • make sure children feel safe, well and included throughout the process; 
  • reflect on our position and responsibilities, as adult researchers, to the children involved.  

On 10 April 2024, we launched our call for applications to join our first Young Advisory Team. We invited children and young people to tell us a little about themselves, their interest in climate justice, children’s rights and the project, and what skills and qualities they would like to bring to the team.  

We explained that we wanted the Young Advisory Team to be made up of children and young people from across the world who are of different ages, genders, abilities, and backgrounds. We also wanted to make sure the team represents children and young people who have experienced different impacts of the climate crisis, and those involved in different types of climate action.  

We noted that four of the twelve Young Advisors will be children and young people from Canada, Ireland, Nepal, and South Africa – the four countries where our research case studies will take place. We also explained that there will be opportunities for children under eight years old to be involved in the research project in the future.  

When applications closed on 5 May 2024, we were very excited to have received 398 applications from children and young people across the world. We did not anticipate such a high response rate, so we wrote to all applicants to say we would take a little longer to review all the applications. 

Of these applications, 323 met the age criteria (8-17 years old). From these 323 applications, we received applications from children and young people from 60 countries. The majority of applications were from those who identified as female (213).  

Selecting 12 Young Advisors from 323 applications was far from an easy task. Drawing from research into, and my own experience of, selecting Young Advisors for local, national and global child and youth advisory teams, I developed a selection handbook with a step-by-step guide for all members of the team to refer to. After organising the applications by region (defined by the SDG regional groups), age and gender, the wider team were each given applications from two or three regions to review and score, using criterion developed for the key questions. This scoring criterion was important as it helped us to review the applications in the same way, as far as possible. It also helped us to be extra mindful that we had a diverse range of applicants, including much younger children, those with different abilities, those for whom English is not their first language, or who might be supported by an adult to write their responses. We wanted to make sure that longer, detailed answers or more ‘eloquent’, ‘professional’ answers were not assumed to be ‘better than’ those that were shorter/simpler. It also helped us to make sure we were creating a team of children and young people with diverse abilities and different experiences of the climate crisis and types of climate action/leadership. 

Through this process, we created a shortlist of applicants for final consideration. We then used this shortlist to cross-check the balance of age, gender, country, regions, languages spoken, abilities, experiences, to create our final team of twelve Young Advisors.  

It is important for us to share how we created this final team – firstly, because we want children and young people who applied to understand how we reached the final decision.  

We also want to share it because we know it was not a perfect process. There are things we learned and will do differently in the future – and things others who are looking to involve children and young people as advisors might find helpful to think about. For example, we were unable (this time) to accept non-written applications e.g., video messages, drawings, audio-files, or photographs. We know this will have been a barrier for children and young people who express themselves in different ways. Secondly, whilst the application materials were available in English, French and Spanish and we welcomed requests for translations/applications in different languages, with more time and increased outreach, we would have liked to have reached more children and young people who do not speak one of these three languages. Third, the application process largely relied upon having access to a digital device and internet, or support to complete the application offline. We are very grateful to those who helped us to share the call with children and young people who do not have such access. Finally, in future, we will make sure that the online form prevents those who were younger or older than 8-17 from progressing their application after entering their date of birth. We received many applications from individuals in their 30s and 40s who were not eligible as they weren’t under 18 years old. 

We look forward to sharing an update about our Young Advisory Team very soon. Before then, we want to take this opportunity to say how inspired by, and extremely grateful we are to, every child and young person who took the time to apply and share your story with us. Thank you for your passion for, and dedication to, children’s rights and climate justice – we have learned a lot from you. We hope to stay in touch throughout the project through our Research Network which is open to everyone, and anyone!   


The timing of our selection process aligned with important reflections shared on LinkedIn by Sophie Bray-Watkins, Youth Advocacy and Participation Adviser at War Child, about the lack of transparency and fair representation in Youth Advisory Boards. This blog is, in part, inspired by the reflections Sophie – and others – shared, but also from many important conversations had with the global Children’s Advisory Team for the development of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment No.26.