We are approaching that time of the year, April 22, where we dedicate one day of our life to reflect on the environmental issues affecting our planet. Today, we are 8 billion in number, by 2050, this number is only expected to increase. This means the need for food, housing, transportation, and other services will […]
We are approaching that time of the year, April 22, where we dedicate one day of our life to reflect on the environmental issues affecting our planet. Today, we are 8 billion in number, by 2050, this number is only expected to increase. This means the need for food, housing, transportation, and other services will only increase. Such an increase in consumption practices will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, making it challenging for economies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Therefore, it is imperative to unite forces and fight the climate crisis. And rightly so, this year’s theme complements this need to ‘invest in our planet’ through multiple ways – investing in renewable energy sources, improving Environmental Social Governance (ESG) standards, enhancing climate literacy, supporting local and sustainable fashions, so on and so forth. This can only be done when governments, businesses, NGOs, indigenous communities, youth, and citizens join hands. Of these, young people (below 35 years) are key stakeholders within this transformative process.
Over 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 35, yet less than 3% of their voices are incorporated in the climate-related decision-making process. Furthermore, less than 2% of climate-related investments are directed towards youth-led innovations and solutions. It is today’s youth who’ll shape tomorrow’s urbanising trends, consumption patterns, emissions, and policy decisions. Hence, investing in tomorrow’s leaders is one the significant ways to ensure a safe, equal, and sustainable planet So how to invest in youth?
Three simple ways to do so are follows:
Investing in education and workforce: As of 2021, as many as 244 million children and youth are missing out on attending schools. Also 75 million trained young people have no jobs. Furthermore, in the coming decade over one billion youth will enter the labour market. Owing to the lack of investments in youth education and workforce, these young minds will face a future of informal and perhaps irregular employment. Linking education with work-based learning is an effective way to capacitate young workforce with soft and hard skills like life skills, career counselling, technical and other skills. This can be done through partnerships between schools and business organisations which ensure youth access to jobs and technical training.
Strengthening youth entrepreneurship: Young people are coming up with innovative ideas and solutions to work with grassroot communities and address climate change. They are making invaluable contributions as activists, researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. However, as mentioned, there is very little investment directed to such activities. More funding through incubation programmes, private sector partnerships and seed funding will significantly boost youth entrepreneurship and their activities.
Incorporate youth in decision-making bodies: Young people within the climate sector often experience several barriers – technocratic, professional development, gender, and age biases. Most often youth inclusion within decision-making processes is superficial with very little opportunity to meaningfully contribute to and influence climate related outcomes. Hence, a conscious acknowledgment of youth as a key stakeholder and a dedicated percentage of youth representation into different levels of decision making will ensure that their voices are heard, respected, and included in decisions that define their future.
With the right policies and investments, youth have the potential to become transformative problem solvers, entrepreneurs, and agents of change.
(The writer is a researcher working at the intersection of climate change adaptation, water governance and gender studies)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation