Frustrated by a lack of action on climate change by people in power, Greta Thunberg was just 15 when she skipped school to stage a lone protest outside Swedish parliament.
She sparked a global youth movement which saw millions of children swap the classroom for the streets, instantly pushing the crisis to the top of the political and public agenda.
When crucial UN climate talks, called Cop26, to be held in Glasgow last month were delayed for a year because of coronavirus, young people from 52 countries came together online to hold their own ‘Mock Cop26’.
They discussed carbon reduction targets, education, health, and green jobs – showing adults what could be achieved if they were the decision-makers.
Turning passion into action
While protesting and the internet have become potent tools for young people to get their voices heard, there is now a way for them and their parents to put this passion into action.
Their power to act lies in something that is often seen as ‘just for adults’: investing.
The Big Exchange, co-founded by The Big Issue, has launched a new kind of Junior Individual Savings Account (JISA): one that will invest only in funds that are proven to be making a positive difference to the environment and society.
Today we launch our Junior ISA! To show the kids we care about their future and their planet. Find out more at https://t.co/HJVk82g5hd.
Capital at Risk. #makemoneycount #listentothekids pic.twitter.com/LVkBFzWMvH
— TheBigExchange_ (@TheBigExchange_) December 7, 2020
There are 40 investment funds to choose from, all rated against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or ‘Global Goals’. These were adopted by world leaders in 2015 as a rallying call to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.
Whatever cause you and your child are most passionate about – from preserving wildlife or combating climate change to providing social housing for vulnerable people – the new sustainable JISA means you can help.
A gift that’s not just for Christmas
You can invest with only small amounts of spare cash, from £25 a month or a lump sum of £100 up to the annual limit for a JISA of £9,000. The JISA must be opened and managed by a parent or guardian on behalf of a child under the age of 18, but anyone can pay into it.
At a time when pocket money and Christmas cash gifts are likely to be given by friends and family digitally, it’s a chance to teach children the power of investing some of what they have.
Nigel Kershaw OBE, chair of The Big Exchange and of The Big Issue Group, says: “We believe giving a JISA can be truly transformational in helping change the ‘hearts and minds’ of millions of young people who, when they reach 18, will get their financial, environmental and social return. They can not only reap the potential benefits of saving but also know that the financial system can work for them and in all that they believe in”.
Giving power to young people
The Big Exchange aims to make investing accessible to anyone with savings and the JISA is a way of handing young people some power, through their parents, over what their money is used for.
Nigel says: “I’m so in awe of Greta Thunberg and the millions of school pupils who marched on the streets to get their voices heard. Their passion to make change happen resonates so much with me.
“As a kid I remember looking up at a grey and threatening sky and thinking a nuclear bomb had been let off. I will never forget the fear, anger against ‘them’, and desire to stop this happening that I felt.
“I also remember the 1969 student boycott of Barclays Bank because of its support for apartheid in South Africa. The boycott lasted until 1987. By this time, it is estimated that the bank had lost more than £6 billion (£18 billion in present day value), because an entire generation of young people had refused to bank with it. It shows the effect that youth activism can have on business.”
It is this ‘bottom-up’ approach to change – the idea of ‘a hand up not a hand down’ – that lies at the heart of The Big Issue. Nigel says: “Children ask their parents “Why aren’t we recycling more?” or “Can we buy less plastic?” because they care about the issues they’re hearing about. It’s this kind of ‘pester power’ from children that creates behavioural change in adults.
“The JISA takes this one step further. Corporations need pestering too. Choosing where our money is invested puts pressure on businesses to change their behaviour. It’s about building momentum, and it starts with the younger generation. As well as saying ‘recycle this’, they can ask their parents ‘put my pocket money here.’”
Recovery from coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how intrinsically linked the health of the planet is to our own – and that of our finances.
The ONS estimate that between July and September an estimated 1.62 1.62 million people are now unemployed in the UKj. The Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance (RORA) campaign is working to prevent families losing their homes, and help people remain in employment.
While for many people this year is all about survival, those lucky enough to have savings can use them through The Big Exchange to help create sustainable jobs, an economy that is fair for everyone, and a cleaner, healthier planet.
Sprint the talk
“The universe is telling us ‘this is urgent,’” says Nigel. “People say we need to walk the talk, right now we need to sprint the talk. Children don’t want to wait. While adults are busy setting targets, young people are asking ‘but why are you waiting until 2050?’”
Jill Jackson, managing director of The Big Exchange, says that when young people are aware of how powerful their money can be, they see investing it in the planet and society as common sense.
“They’re so smart,” she says. “They make quick decisions about what to them is simply ‘doing the right thing,’ because they don’t have the prejudices or agendas that adults have.”
“Just Invest Sustainably, Adults”
It was Jill’s 13-year-old son who showed her how much adults can learn from children when it comes to prioritising the planet.
She says: “I was talking to my son about what a JISA is, and why where he keeps his money matters. I said a JISA is a kind of savings account for children, and he can put his money into one which invests only in companies that are working to create a better world.
“I explained that at the moment, people often put their money into accounts where it might be used to help industries that are harming the planet without them even knowing. He said, ‘So mum, a JISA should actually stand for ‘Just Invest Sustainably, Adults.’ To him, using his money to help the planet rather than harm it is a no-brainer.
“The thing is, children will only know how powerful their money can be to do good if we tell them, and help them to utilise that power. Once they reach 18, they can see what they have achieved – financially and for the planet – and the baton is passed to them to continue their investing journey.”
If you want to bring about positive impact with your money –for yourself and the planet – sign up at bigexchange.com and join the movement
Risk warning: Capital at risk. The value of your fund can go down as well as up. Tax treatment depends on an individual’s circumstances and may be subject to change.
The Big Exchange (TBF) Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Big Exchange Limited. The Big Exchange (TBF) Limited is an Appointed Representative of Resolution Compliance Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 574048).