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The youth activists leading the way

Jean McLean from Green Economy Coalition on why it is important to recognise the youth activists and movements leading the way

By Jean McLean GEC · 10th August, 2022
Youth protest march
Photo by Katie Rodriguez on Unsplash

If there is one group that is impatient for change, intolerant of incremental tweaks to our society and that fully grasp the urgency of the current moment then top of mind for me are youth activists.

This International Youth Day it is important to recognise, celebrate and support youth activists and movements that are pushing boundaries. They are demanding that we fully engage with the climate, environment and economic crises that we are in the midst of. The urgency on today shouldn’t rest on the generations of tomorrow. Greater intergenerational collaboration is needed if we are to create a more just system for people and the planet.

The burden cannot fall on one generation”

Action is happening everywhere as can be seen here:

  • In the USA, high school students from the state of Indiana wrote and proposed climate legislation because their elected officials weren’t taking action. “One of the main reasons that youth activism is so crucial is because we are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Claire Curran, a sophomore at Brebeuf High School. Legislators were failing in their duty and school children stepped up. Read more on this story in the Indiana Environmental Reporter.
  • #FridaysForFuture, the youth-led movement that brought us Greta amongst others, has given countless others the opportunities to organised protests, actions and build demand for others to join their call for more action, more quickly and more ambition.
  • Young people are even taking their countries to court over climate inaction. 6 Portuguese children and young adults have filled a lawsuit against 33 counties at the European Court of Human Rights. They are demanding that governments do more to reduce emissions and safeguard their future physical and mental wellbeing. More information can be found here.
  • In Peru, 7 children have filed a complaints against the state for its failure to adequately halt deforestation in the Amazon. They argue that their futures are severely compromised due to the climate crisis, particularly their right to enjoy a healthy environment, along with their rights to life, water, and health. Take a look at the case.

Let’s make change happen together”

These stories are activating and they are just the tip of the iceberg. For every story reported, there are countless of other young people driving forward change in their communities.

While it is time to celebrate the role of youth in calling for economic and environmental reform, we also need to step up and be better allies in our efforts to transform society. The burden cannot fall on one generation. At the Green Economy Coalition, we are supporting the message today that “no one is left behind” as we support the UN in fostering successful and equitable intergenerational relations. We are also thinking about how we can do the work and be better allies too.

Let’s celebrate International Youth Day but let’s do our bit too. Let’s make change happen together.

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