Youth for our cities – Youth for our environment/climate change

Globally, young people are on the move, often migrating from rural settings to urban locations, seeking education (secondary & higher), employment and better opportunities.  For urban context, large number of youth is an opportunity.  Looking at the demographics in urban settings, particularly in developing contexts, urban populations are more youthful than rural and hopefully becoming increasingly so.

These youthfulness results with visible and necessary engagement of young citizens in good governance, which in turn is essential for economic growth, and other important public topics, such as environment/climate change. Young people’s participation in the life and decisions of a city is a right and an important benchmark of social inclusion.

Young people are active, motivated, full of hope & optimism, have a driving force: they are willing to engage in their communities, make important contributions through the activities they run.

Close to half a million youth around the world have taken action on climate change through SGP*. They are also key actors in raising awareness, running educational programs, promoting sustainable lifestyles, conserving nature, supporting renewable energy or adopting environmentally-friendy practices. What is more: youth constitute the majority of the population in many countries and have an increasingly strong social and environmental awareness, which has the power to transform our societies towards a low-carbon and climate resilient future.**

With no doubt, this is education that is the most powerful path to sustainability. Economic and technological solutions, political regulations or financial incentives are not enough. We need a fundamental change in the way we think and act. We know this is a difficult task. This means revision of learning objectives, big need for teaching and learning about climate change, about disaster risk reduction.  Here again – all hope is the young.  Young people are increasingly aware of the challenges and opportunities that the necessary transition to low carbon growth entails, and many are joining the global dialogue on solutions, getting involved and taking action. As young people work across the globe to determine their future by acting on climate change, their actions inspire us all.

The example of great driving force of Greta Thunberg, very young Swedish environmental activist, known for challenging world leaders to take immediate actions for climate change mitigation.  Although later on she became a target for critics (i.e. absurd allegations that she should not use plane as a means of transport), she has been extremly successful in highlighting the problem, raising awareness, and inspiring thousands of young people to act.

We need to accelerate our actions towards saving the environment, because the future is uncertain, and what is certain is that we must leave behind a world suitable for living for the next generations.

*[small grants programmes] projects in their homes, schools and communities. [UNDP, Fast Facts: Youth and Climate Change, 2015,]

**  [United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change, 2010,]


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