Hackathon: addressing the lack of diversity in the environment sector

Action for Conservation

Amira Ismail, one of our young consultants with our Involving Young People Collective (IYPC) writes about plans for a Hackathon to help us address the lack of diversity in the environment sector.

Diversity and inclusion must be at the very heart of everything - from the environmental work to ensuring everyone feels like they belong to this movement.

On the 28 April 2021, Involving Young People Collective (IYPC) together with Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Hudl Youth Development Agency will be hosting a Hackathon centred around addressing the lack of diversity within the environmental sector. The IYPC is formed of 9 young people who work together to design and test new ways in which Esmée Fairbairn as a funder can actively engage young people, both internally within the foundation, and externally regarding what and how they fund.

Due to the evident lack of diversity within the environmental sector, particularly in paid positions, the IYPC is keen to explore how funders like Esmée Fairbairn can start to rethink how they fund organisations working within the sector in order to meaningfully engage with diverse communities and platform their work.

What will the hackathon involve?

The hackathon will be a dynamic event that will bring together the voices of young environmental activists, funders, and organisations like Flock Together, May Project Gardens, Action for Conservation, John Ellerman Foundation, Cody Dock, Black 2 Nature, Mosaic Outdoors, Black Girls Hike and more .

First and foremost, this will be a creative space where participants with an array of lived experiences and expertise will come together to start thinking about the key barriers that may prevent diverse communities from accessing and engaging with the environmental sector. The IYPC is committed to ensuring that any work or conversations pertaining to diverse communities centre those voices and experiences, and this can be seen through the people and organisations we have invited to this event.

We will be using elements of human-centred design throughout the day. This is a process and mindset that prioritises the perspective of individuals who have experienced a problem in order to truly identify the root causes of the issue we are tackling. In this case, that would be the lack of diversity and representation in the environmental sector. Participants will be working in small groups facilitated by IYPC members.

Ahead of the Hackathon, we asked some of those invited to share their initial thoughts on the problem...

What we hope to achieve

The topic we will be exploring is complex and multifaceted, therefore we do not expect to arrive at concrete answers and solutions during this event. Rather, we envision the upcoming hackathon as a prime space in which we can engage with a diverse network of individuals and organisations so that we can truly identify what we mean when we talk about barriers within the environmental space. We also hope to offer a platform to those pioneering this work to share needs, as well as the lessons they’ve learnt.

We believe that only by having the right conversations and listening deeply to each other, we can start understanding how we can work together to implement essential solutions to tackle such a complex problem. Diversity and inclusion must be at the very heart of everything - from the environmental work to ensuring everyone feels like they belong to this movement. Belonging happens when we can all recognise, celebrate, and value our differences as a group. When people are able to feel like they belong somewhere, they want to stay there, grow there, and find more people like them to work with. This circle of belonging is essential to the work we do to tackle the current climate crisis.

Questions we’ll be exploring

On the day we will be exploring the following questions:

How can diverse communities overcome the barriers that they are facing in accessing the environmental space/sector?


What barriers are diverse communities facing in accessing the environmental space? Why?


What do organisations & movements pioneering diversity in the environmental space need? / What can organisations with decision-making power & funders provide you/ them with?


How can organisations & movements create space for diverse communities & support them with the work they do?

We’re very excited to dive into the unknown of this exploration and see where it takes us. Watch this space for more blogs and videos where we’ll be sharing what we’ve learned and our future plans and next steps.

Amira Ismail-IYPC.png

Amira Ismail, IYPC member at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Amira is planning on studying International Relations with the hopes of working in a foreign policy field with IGNOs or NGOs. Amira is passionate about prioritising underrepresented narratives, she’s worked with Don’t Settle projects like ‘Lunar Campfires’, to create safe spaces to discuss race and representation and now also sits on the projects board where she aims to tackle the homogeneous narratives that exist in the heritage sector. Believing it's vital people use their voice to create change, Amira has mentored children in debating and had created a campaign called (un)heard focused around political education through accessible workshops.

More from the IYPC

  • Involving Young People Collective - Sam and Helen

    Involving young people

    We want to do better at listening to and involving young people more directly with our work so we're working with the Involving Young People Collective to help us design and test ways in which we can do this.

    Read more
  • Serena Murdoch, IYPC Member

    Why I joined Esmée's Involving Young People Collective

    As part of the Power of Youth Festival, Serena Murdoch, a member of our Involving Young People Collective, writes about why she got involved and her experience so far of working with Esmée.

    Read more
  • IYPC image.jfif

    Using hackathons and human-centred design to help us involve young people in Esmée’s work

    Betty Mayo, a young consultant with our Involving Young People Collective writes about how we’re using hackathons and human-centred design to help us to embed young people’s insights into our work and why they’re a great method for innovation and problem-solving within communities.

    Read more