- World leaders are meeting for COP26 to discuss climate action.
- We asked five young people how they would address the multi-faceted nature of the climate crisis.
- Their answers tackle social justice, investment in nature, circular thinking, food systems and more.
As world leaders meet at the Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26) in Glasgow, how are young people addressing the many facets and immensity of this global crisis, and what does the world need young people to do to address climate change?
We asked five young organizers and activists who participated in creating the Youth Climate Action Challenge what they are doing to address the climate crisis and what other young people can do.
The young people featured in this article are driving action and change through their individual work and Hub projects with the Global Shapers Community, a network of activists who are leading initiatives in their communities to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Here are their powerful messages for creating a more equitable and sustainable world.
Support youth-led solutions
Wole Hammond, Abuja Hub, Nigeria
Climate change has been on the front burner of global conversations. As a young person who is passionate about building a sustainable future for my generation and posterity, I am promoting awareness on the subject of climate change and advocating for a just-transition, that leaves no one behind, through multimedia storytelling.
Young people like myself are also taking action to address the climate crisis. Youths in Nigeria mobilized under the National Youth Climate Consultation to provide youth input into the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs). Yetunde Fadeyi is solving environmental and climate problems through renewable energy through REES Africa and Vectar Energy.
As the global race to net-zero is on, government, leaders, corporations and institutions must offer the necessary to assist youth-led solutions to scale climate action across the globe. This is why it is important to have programs such as the Youth Climate Action Challenge to harvest and support innovative ideas to build a green and sustainable world.
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Create equitable, sustainable food systems
Saskia Czimenga, Gaborone Hub, Botswana
The food systems that humanity is relying on today is one of the major causes of land cover change and emission of greenhouse gases. While we already know that this approach has devastating effects on biodiversity, ground water resources and soil nutrition, the effects of the climate crisis will add excessive stress to food security around the world, but especially for the most vulnerable communities.
From my personal experience in Lesotho, a small land-locked mountainous kingdom in southern Africa, I know that people cannot afford to buy food in the supermarkets but have lost their traditional way of subsistence farming through dam projects, urbanization and prolonged and extreme droughts. Through different networks I have learned that young people are demanding different food systems and are already working on developing such themselves. This is exciting.
My partner and I have ventured into permaculture and started a demonstration garden in his home village, and I recently brought together people from African countries to work towards a vision for a sustainable food system for the continent, inspired by the European Youth-led manifesto for better food systems.
Embed climate-positive concepts into production
Lucy Tong, Beijing Hub, China
Millennials are the generation that will witness the success or failure of humanity’s climate change mitigation. We want to be the decision-makers that shape the future we live in.
Climate change is a systematic revolution across all sectors of society, it requires both top-down and bottle-up measures. To ensure a sustainable transformation, one of the keys to success is designing circular – to embed climate-positive, socially-aware concepts into the root of the product.
At the Global Shaper Beijing hub, we want to explore the topic while making local impact. As part of the initiative Scale360°, the Beijing hub will invite local youth to identify tactics for the food industry to go circular through design thinking. Topic will include the prominent delivery services in China, the popular bandage-style packages for food, and the agriculture sector in the value chain. This would join the momentum for the transition to a circular economy in the factory of the world, China, and help the world move into a net-zero future.
Invest in nature at scale
Rafael Alonso, Mexico City Hub, Mexico
Humans have the systems, the knowledge, the technology. Nature has the regenerative capacity. To be of service for mother nature means to use our resources for good.
For the first time ever, we can work together, aligning incentives to really make a difference. Startups can use disruptive technologies such as satellite images, big data and remote sensors. Companies can commit to net zero, or even better, to nature positive production systems. Asset owners and asset managers can choose where to allocate their resources.
This decade is crucial to green our investments and to invest in green opportunities. Imagine investing in a portfolio that restores vast amounts of grasslands in North America, effectively preventing desertification at scale. Further imagine entire systems changing agricultural practices around Latin America’s rainforests. Platforms such as Cultivo.Land can bring together all the relevant stakeholders to take bold action today. And other innovation efforts, such as the Youth Climate Action Challenge can help scale climate action even further. It’s time for the private sector to participate. Invest in nature today.
Take a circular approach
Hannah Ballard, Montreal Hub, Canada
We are facing a vast array of multidimensional global crises across the climate, social fabric, economy, geopolitical landscape and health systems of the world. Making change isn’t going to be easy, but if we commit to a truly circular approach, we could genuinely build a better, more inclusive system.
Why think circular when you can think doughnut? Kate Raworth’s "Doughtnut Economics" has led to a “Doughtnut Economy Action Lab” where activists can connect, reuse resources and share best practices. Local communities and governments are adopting the doughnut, from Amsterdam to Tokyo. By making the process of taking action more sustainable, activists are better able to sustain their efforts.
Just like a circle, connecting stakeholders enables transformative change. Citizens across the world want alternatives, and innovators are stepping up to meet their demands. In Southeast Asia, The Incubation Network runs initiatives to empower entrepreneurs to tackle plastic waste in their communities. In Canada, Kids Code Jeunesse launched the #kids2030 Challenge to educate the world’s youngest stakeholders about the climate crisis. Not content with learning, these young people are exploring their own solutions to address the problem.
By closing the circle to better utilize our resources and energy reserves, young activists have the potential to accelerate us into a better, more sustainable future. But to get there, they need support.