Encouraging the next generation to take action on International Youth Day 2020

How can we help the next generation to take action?

International Youth Day 2020 gives us a chance to celebrate what young people are doing to change the world. Greta Thunberg has, of course, had a profound impact upon environmentalism, and student protests inspired by her words and actions helped to put the climate crisis on the world’s agenda last year.

Connecting with community institutions

The first step in creating an inclusive and receptive environment is through the engagement of young people with their local communities where they can share and explain their concerns. Many young people, especially from sections of society that are vulnerable or who have traditionally been discriminated against, aren’t used to being listened to and don’t understand their voices matter.

Shobiyana High School WSO group encounter elephants for the first time on first game drive, Canon Young People Programme in South Africa
A Wild Shots Outreach group encounter a herd of elephants at a waterhole, Sabi Sand Game Reserve. By Mike Kendrick
72 courses taught with over 600 students taking photos and visiting game reserves for the first time

Playing a role in the process

The second step is the engagement and inclusion of young people at a national and official levels such as in political institutions. Giving the next generation a pivotal role in formal political mechanisms is vital to ensure that institutions implement real and relevant action to support societal change. However, this is often a question of access — young people rarely have any meaningful say in the planning carried out by institutions.

“In Brussels, all young people take the public transportation. Some girls avoid it at night because they are afraid of being harassed. As boys, we think it is also our responsibility to take action if we witness aggressions” -Natanael, aged 17, Brussels, Belgium
Belgian YPP Participants present their work to the Brussels Parliament

Where next?

The UN’s final step for engaging young people is at a global level. Of course, this responsibility doesn’t fall to one organisation, but every step in improving engagement at a community or national level is a step towards achieving global change.

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