Global Youth Climate Inquiry findings presented at COP26

Last week at COP26, Mischon de Reya LLP, in partnership with One Young World and the Democracy and Culture Foundation, presented the findings of the Global Youth Climate Inquiry.

The Inquiry took written and oral evidence from 22 global youth leaders, from 19 different countries, working in the climate space, gathering evidence from One Young World Ambassadors across the globe between 3-29th September 2021.

It focused on the impact that climate change is having on young people and their communities globally, the extent to which young people are able to make their views heard to local, national and international decision-makers, and to hold these decision-makers accountable, and how to craft local, national and global initiatives that successfully engage young people in efforts to tackle climate change.

Key findings of the Inquiry spanned various topics, including:

Climate Change Impact: 

  • An increasing number of young people are suffering from climate anxiety
  • Young people across all geographies are seeing the serious physical and social impact of climate change
  • Climate change is experienced unequally depending on socio-economic background, gender and physical location

Inclusion in the Climate Change Debate:

  • Young leaders in the Global South are frustrated at their exclusion from the dialogue about climate change
  • There is widespread concern that the English language dominated dialogue risks furthering disenfranchisement
  • Those most affected by climate change are often the least educated about climate change
  • Lack of access to education and information is a significant barrier to youth enfranchisement in the climate change debate
  • Micro-changes such as tree-planting initiatives can help to bridge generational gaps in the climate change debate

Challenges in Youth Enfranchisement:

  • Age acts as a bar to the decision-making table, meaning limited opportunities for participation
  • Young leaders feel concerned about tokenism in the debate
  • Many young leaders feel that even when their voices are heard, they are neither taken seriously nor acted upon
  • Young people felt the most successful initiatives were those allowing young people to actively contribute or take on leadership roles
  • Young voices must be heard in the business sphere as well as the political sphere

It went on to identify the key characteristics for successful youth enfranchisement initiatives addressing climate change.

For local initiatives, this included intergenerational inclusivity, focusing on engaging entire communities, and education to raise climate awareness and understanding in local languages.

For national and global initiatives, important aspects included funding and support for young scientists, entrepreneurs and change-makers, as well as providing tailored youth platforms in business and politics and forums for international collaboration between young people.

The Inquiry’s Partner Organisations are committed to taking action to facilitate further conversations and to bring the findings of the Inquiry to the attention of global leaders and decision-makers. The Report identifies a number of successful mechanisms of youth engagement and the Partner Organisations are excited to work together to help take these ideas forward.