Nature and Biodiversity

How today's youth are taking the lead in global climate action

Silhouettes of young people against the sunrise, illustrating how youth are impacting climate action

Youth at the dawn of a new era of climate action Image: Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

Muhammad Hassan Dajana
Global Shaper, Rawalpindi Hub, World Economic Forum
Syeda Hamna Shujat
Global Shaper, Lahore Hub, World Economic Forum
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Climate and Nature

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  • Young people are becoming catalysts for change in the face of enormous climate change issues.
  • The world's youth are at the forefront of building a sustainable future with cutting-edge technology and circular economic models.
  • Here we showcase the youth-led initiatives driving real solutions for a sustainable future.

In our quest for a sustainable future and our battle against the worsening climate catastrophe, it is essential to harness the strength of youth to promote climate action and protect the environment. Young people are raising their voices, shepherding initiatives for a sustainable future, calling for immediate action and inspiring change through grassroots movements and worldwide campaigning.

Youth as catalysts for change

Young people are becoming catalysts for change in the face of enormous climate change issues. Their constant dedication and creative strategies influence effective action and raise awareness across the world. They highlight the gravity of the situation through climate strikes, public demonstrations, awareness campaigns and artistic expression. They engage with decision-makers increasing public awareness and inspiring governments and communities to take action. Their enthusiasm, commitment and innovative ideas are an inspiration and serve as a reminder that everyone can make a difference in the fight against climate change.

The world's youth are at the forefront of building a sustainable future with cutting-edge technology and circular economic models. All youth-led programmes highlight innovative approaches to tackling problems and fostering development. Youth participation in the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27), for example, resulted in important wins in the fight against climate change. The Children and Youth Pavilion and the Sharm el-Sheikh Youth Climate Forum gave youth a platform to engage with policymakers and are recognized as change agents. Their lobbying resulted in the establishment of a loss and damage fund and increased pledges to the Adaptation Fund.

Youth understand that climate change is not only an environmental crisis but also a social justice issue. By prioritising climate justice, inclusive education, mental health support and global collaboration, they are shaping a movement that addresses systemic inequalities and empowers future generations to create a sustainable and equitable world.

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How is the World Economic Forum fighting the climate crisis?

Transforming awareness into action

Youth actively contribute to combating climate change through innovation, sustainable practices, advocacy and community involvement. These youth-led initiatives drive real solutions for a sustainable future, showcasing their impactful role in addressing global challenges:

The Plastic Free July campaign

A global movement named the Plastic Free July campaign was initiated by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz to cut down on the use of single-use plastics. Plastic Free July offers information and suggestions on how to lessen the amount of single-use plastic waste produced every day at home, work, school and in cafes. This movement has inspired more than 100 million people in 190 countries.

FridaysForFuture

FridaysForFuture was started in August 2018 in response to Greta Thunberg and other young activists' three-week sit-in protest against inaction on the climate catastrophe in front of the Swedish parliament. This campaign involved more than 14 million individuals in 7,500 cities across all continents.

The Ocean Cleanup

Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup, pioneered an innovative method to remove plastic rubbish from the oceans, inspiring a generation of young environmentalists worldwide. The organization is now developing and scaling up methods to eliminate plastic from the world's seas, with the goal of having done 90% by 2040.

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Youth Climate Strike

The Youth Climate Strike is an environmentalist protest wave ostensibly led by school-age children inspired by the activism of high-school-age Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Isra Hirsi, the co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, has been organizing youth-led climate strikes and advocating for environmental justice.

Plant-for-the-Planet

Plant-for-the-Planet works to rebuild forest ecosystems to combat climate catastrophe and the decline of biodiversity. It empowers young people, carries out restoration research, restores ecosystems and gives free software tools and restoration guidance to organizations all across the world. Thanks to Plant-for-the-Planet, at 1,752 academies in 75 countries, 95,898 children and teenagers have already received training on climate catastrophe.

Mock COP

Mock COP empowers young people and amplifies their voices in climate decision-making. It mobilises a global movement, advocating for ambitious policies and collaborating with leaders for effective climate action.

The Climate Action and Advocacy Club

The Climate Action and Advocacy Club is a grassroots-level education and action campaign founded to inform and mobilise teenagers about climate change. Led by Arooj Khalid, the programme engages students from low-income communities and provides climate education, leadership training and funding for community-focused initiatives. The initiative empowers youth voices, develops agency and promotes a climate action culture among young people in Pakistan.

GreenSquad

Founded in 2017 by Fahad Rizwan, GreenSquad is a grassroots organization devoted to tackling climate change and promoting sustainable growth through green solutions in Pakistan. It influences waste management, urban afforestation, land recovery and habitat restoration.

Global Shapers taking action

Hamara Kachra Hamari Zimedari is encouraging sustainable zero-waste lifestyles and recycling plastic garbage in Karachi, Pakistan. This work is undertaken by the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Karachi Hub.

AMNC Shapers, Jason Occidental, Bianca Goebel and Karolina Eklöw are also leading impactful climate action initiatives. Occidental leads a government-funded project to assess renewable energy potential in disadvantaged areas of the Philippines. Goebel drives a global green hydrogen strategy for Orica, supports a circular battery economy and preserves biodiverse landscapes. Eklöw works at ClimateView, providing climate governance software to cities for a smoother transition to net-zero emissions. While the Phoenix Hub actively engages in a variety of projects, including hiking with litter cleanups, tree donations to schools for a cooler environment, fruit harvesting and monthly volunteering to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Empowering youth for collective impact

Empowering youth to be effective climate leaders is essential for forging a collective impact and solving the pressing issues of climate change. It is crucial to give young activists the required leadership skills, strategic knowledge and advocacy methods. Governments, organizations and related platforms must develop inclusive teaching materials, training efforts and mentorship programmes where senior climate activists guide and train youth in their advocacy journey, which, as a result, can enhance their influence on climate action.

Youth should be given the chance to engage with decision-makers and take part in conferences and forums where climate-related decisions are made. By giving them a seat at the table, their thoughts and ideas can shape policies and activities. Youth should be provided with opportunities to increase their influence and be acknowledged as important partners in resolving climate issues.

Social media also provides youth with enormous potential to communicate environmental ideas, share resources and gather support. Young activists can successfully convey the necessity of taking action on climate change and motivate others to join the campaign by using captivating digital storytelling tactics. Providing partnerships with online communities, influential people and climate-focused organizations to create and share compelling digital material, such as infographics, blogs and films, can help them reach a wider audience and promote a movement for climate action.

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