Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Young People and Climate Change

If children ruled the world I'm sure it would be an interesting place. A bit of stereotypical speculation; most boys would be playing 'army' in parks, breaking stuff or simply hurling clumps of mud at each other. The girls would be dressing up with over-sized parental fashion accessories, playing 'hop scotch' or with small plastic horses. These marauding tribes of opposite sexes certainly wouldn't want to befriend each other; in fact they would barely interact. I expect that in this situation it would be difficult for any productive laws to be passed or policy to be created.

While this playground utopia will (likely) not come to pass, this doesn't mean that the ideas of young people should be ignored. When considering 'climate change' and 'environmental protection' the ideas of today's youth are particularly important – as the actions and efforts of us older folk today has a direct impact on the global youth. So, as politicians, activists and businesses try to address the issue of climate change, it is essential to keep in mind those who will live with the consequences, the future citizens of this world. 

It is undeniable that climate change will affect us for many years to come. Whether its impact can be reduced by improving carbon emissions or burning less fossil fuels, or whether its encroachment is a force that cannot be stopped but must simply be managed, climate change will be one of the most defining challenges for the next generation and many generations to come. Considering this, adults and policy makers must act now to encourage the participation of children into this debate, to raise their awareness and stoke the embers of their imaginations, as it will take a considerable and united effort by these future generations to handle the various climate change scenarios that they will face.  

Young people need to be included during the discourse about the future of our planet and its environment. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that climate change is effectively communicated to young people. Over the past ten years I have witnessed environmental issues appear with greater frequency and urgency in papers, journals, TV and films, and it’s gaining more prominence in educational curriculum's around the world, creating more positive activism and awareness. However there is still much to be done. 

Here at Odyssey 2050 we're reaching out to students and children across the world, from poor rural areas in Nicaragua to animated film festivals in Korea and schools in Africa, and it’s our view that children must continue to be brought into this debate and to be given a platform to voice their concerns about their future.   

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