GENEVA, 12th August, 2023 (WAM) — Young climate advocates are preparing to tell leaders at a UN summit next month that they are out of options: they must deliver now on ambitions climate action that pushes the world faster towards sustainability and empowers younger generations with the ‘green skills’ that will secure our future.
International Youth Day is marked annually on 12th August and the 2023 edition spotlights green skills and the major role young people will play in driving the much-needed shift towards an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly mindset.
These include technical knowledge and skills that enable the effective use of green technologies and processes in occupational settings, as well as transversal skills that draw on a range of knowledge, values, and attitudes to facilitate environmentally sustainable decisions in work and in life.
“From innovative sustainable technologies and renewable energy, to revolutions in transportation systems and industrial activity, young people must be equipped with skills and knowledge to shape a cleaner, greener, more climate resilient future,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his message on the Day.
To hear about what skills will be crucial in creating our green future, the UN News talked to Guterres’ young climate advisors. The seven members of Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change hail from different backgrounds and have interests in diverse spheres, but they are united in their desire to make this world a better place.
UN News’ Anton Uspensky spoke with four of the advocates about the importance of enhancing green skills, and about what message each of them hoped to deliver to world leaders who will gather for the Climate Ambition Summit in New York in September.
Saoirse Exton from Ireland became a climate justice activist at the age of 13. Inspired by the example of her peers in Australia, she began to go out for climate protests and became founder of the Fridays for Future movement. Today, she also has keen interest in economics and advocates rethinking of the current global system and encourages to maintain hope.
Saoirse said, “I think it’s important to be wary and critical of the systems that we currently have in place. I’m really interested in economics and being aware of the issues that are ingrained in classical economic systems is very valuable. When we navigate legislative spaces, sometimes it’s easy to feel a bit hopeless. But the way to maintain hope is to realise that there are solutions to those things that feel like they have no solutions.”
“For example, economics, [is] a very big issue because there are a lot of people who are not interested to change our economic system. I think it is worth considering the negative aspects and the negative effects of classical economic systems, at least being critical of them. Maintaining a healthy critical attitude while also being fully aware that change is possible [is a good “green skill”]. So, it’s like optimism combined with criticism.”
Beniamin Strzelecki from Poland is a climate action and energy transition advocate. He has coordinated a global network of youth-led energy organisations and has worked with intergovernmental entities, including the International Renewable Energy Agency, Sustainable Energy for All, and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to create opportunities for young people in the energy transition field.
“I was aware of the catastrophic trajectory on which the world is heading in terms of growing greenhouse gas emissions, with 70 percent of those coming from the energy sector, including power, transportation. [These industries] are really the keys to addressing this climate crisis. I think that quantitative reasoning is incredibly important for this transition. We are faced with a lot of messaging, a lot of campaigns by organisations, companies and governments that are trying to tell us what they are doing to be more green and more sustainable,” Strzelecki stated. “But very few of those campaigns and pledges are backed with real action. I think that young people need to be able to see through the words and look at the numbers and question the meaning of these campaigns we keep hearing about. This is why the grasp of the numbers and quantitative reasoning are so important in the era where the risk of greenwashing is greater than ever.”