“If we let them, young people will be the world’s most powerful solution.”~Denise Dunning
Dealing with climate-induced damages needs an all-encompassing approach. Youth participation in decision-making could play a critical role in addressing climate challenges.
According to UN, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. By 2030, the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the 2030 Agenda, the number of youth is projected to have grown by 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion. Different reports, such as the Ministry of Climate Change and UNDP, Youth and Climate Change Perception’s Report show that the youth of Pakistan are quite aware of climate change and its impacts and they are willing to act if provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and support.
One of the most important global concerns of our time is climate change. Recent occurrences around the world have unequivocally shown how vulnerable we are to climate change. The effects of climate change range from impacting agriculture, jeopardizing food security, sea-level rise, damage to infrastructure, and intensifying natural disasters (flash floods, landslides, and similar). Every person in the world is affected by climate change, but the severe consequences will be strongly felt by today’s youth and children who will remain the see further damages. To address the issue, we need to engage youth in combating it. Youth can play a critical role in the fight against climate change.
Here are three things that governments may do to incorporate youth in the fight against climate change.
Give awareness, engage and harness the skills of youth
National and international organizations, in collaboration with the government, can start an awareness campaign, nationwide. Though youth are aware of social and environmental issues they are not aware of their impacts on their lives, especially in rural areas. So, before starting to act, to counter climate-related issues, they must be given knowledge and equipped with the necessary skills. The kill gap is one of the biggest hurdles in tackling climate challenges.
There is evidence that youth are doing on their own to address climate change. They must be encouraged to contribute to the current framework for tackling climate change and provided finances to make it sustainable. They must be encouraged to contribute to the current framework for tackling climate change and provided finances to make it sustainable. Youth can be educated through conferences, workshops, campaigns, and webinars.
Encourage youth-led social enterprises
Young people (aged 15-34) around the world, are driving initiatives to create a greener society and developing eco-friendly products and services. For example, Zaymal Umer, a nine-year Pakistani social entrepreneur started a project called Zee Bags, an initiative that makes reusable bags using old newspapers. This not only creates jobs but also the environment friendly. Likewise, there are numerously credible and scalable creative solutions that exist but require assistance. Corporations, local NGOs, INGOs, investors, businesses, and governments must provide grants, interest-free loans, venture capital, or other forms of in-kind support to youth-led social enterprises to combat climate change.
Involve young people in decision making
My generation has largely failed until now to preserve both justice in the world and to preserve the planet. It is your generation that must make us be accountable to make sure that we don’t betray the future of humankind.António Guterres – United Nations Secretary-General,
For climate action to be effective, everyone must be able to contribute their fair share. Over the coming decades, young people will be crucial, thus it is crucial for governments, businesses, and leaders to support and inspire them to take an active role in the global battle against climate change. Young people’s inclusion should not be a secondary consideration in order for climate-related decision-making to be inclusive and all-encompassing.
Given the population of young people around the world, it is indispensable to educate, train, finance, and include youth in the policy-making process.