Child campaigners in Jakarta, Indonesia lead a march of children speaking out about the climate crisis.
Nurturing the Future: Empowering Youth for a Sustainable Tomorrow
by Peg Willingham, Save the Children’s Senior Managing Director for Food and Agriculture Partnerships
I recently returned from NYC Climate Week, an in-person and virtual gathering of hundreds of people across government, the private sector, academia, and nonprofits seeking solutions to the negative impacts of climate change. Though many innovative ideas were discussed, and inspiring conversations were had, it became abundantly clear that: 1) The world is not on track to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and 2) The climate crisis is accelerating even faster than anticipated.
Youth are Leading the Call for a Greener Economy
The climate crisis is a children's rights crisis that children are experiencing right now. Around one billion children, roughly one in two worldwide, live in countries at extreme risk from the impacts of climate change. During NYC Climate Week, a recurring theme emerged: the pivotal role of youth in driving the climate movement. I was proud to meet three Save the Children youth advocates from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Zambia, who all underscored the urgent need for action. Through discussions with them, it was evident that our youth are not just the torchbearers of this movement; they are its very essence. This is why Save the Children is working alongside young people to empower them with the knowledge and skills to forge a sustainable future.
In the field of agriculture, for example, the role of young people in addressing the climate crisis is crucial. They are poised to lead the transformation towards more sustainable and climate-resilient farming practices, but their success depends on access to tools and opportunities needed to thrive in this ever-evolving agricultural landscape. It's about education, training, technology, and entrepreneurship – all geared towards ensuring that youth can harness their potential as agents of positive change.
Importance of Reskilling Young Adults
Corporations are also recognizing the value of young people, not only as the future stewards of our planet, but as the future workforce that will shape their success. This is evident in our corporate-funded Youth Skilling programming, which is focused on investing in agile and youth-centric livelihood ecosystems tailored to drive employment opportunities that meet the specific immediate and anticipated needs of local labor markets, including inside the green economy. Since 2014, Save the Children has reached 1 million youth in 47 countries through our livelihoods programming, with 10 million green jobs opening in 2022. It is our goal to increase that number to 24 million new jobs by 2030, when the SDGs are set to expire – a goal we cannot achieve without the support from our corporate partners. Corporations recognize that supporting youth in their journey towards sustainability is not just a moral obligation but a strategic move for long-term growth and success.
Industries and business practices are changing along with our planet. As corporations prioritize sustainability, workers will need green skills and knowledge to be successful in the job market. Save the Children recognizes that green jobs, those centered on sustainability and conservation, will be an important foothold for future workers. Green jobs can provide youth with decent livelihoods and a positive sense of purpose, but for many young people, access to relevant education and resources is limited. With Save the Children’s experience and our network of private and public partnerships that make us uniquely positioned to connect young people with green jobs, we are working to change that.
Green Mindset: Preservation and Conservation
At the heart of this endeavor is the cultivation of a green mindset, one that emphasizes preservation and conservation. It's about instilling youth with the understanding that our natural resources are finite and must be protected. As I engaged with young leaders at NYC Climate Week, I was struck by their commitment to environmental stewardship. They see the world differently – not as a place to exploit, but as a precious legacy to safeguard for generations to come.
Join Us in Building a Sustainable Future
Save the Children and our partners believe that by investing in young people and nurturing their green mindset, we are not only safeguarding their future, but also the future of our planet. Together, we can create a brighter, greener future where young people are not just prepared to face the challenges ahead but are also leading the charge towards a more sustainable and resilient world. Learn more about our climate work here and our partnerships here.
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