How youth will change the World
On International Youth Day, August 12th, we celebrate the voices and agency of young people everywhere. And it is a day to advocate for them and recognize the many challenges they still face. Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai are two inspiring examples of what youth are capable of achieving. But there are millions more that we need to hear and to listen to as we take action to support them.
The engagement and empowerment of young people is actually a far more important conversation than most people realize. Right now, about 50% of the world’s population is 30 years or younger and is expected to reach 57% by the end of 2030. Yet the interests of this huge segment of the world’s population are woefully under-represented at all levels, whether it be at the local, national or global stage. To build a better future for everyone, we need to recognize that youth are absolutely vital to creating solutions to the most pressing worldwide problems, including climate change, education, mental health and peacebuilding just to name a few.
We need to keep youth at the forefront of today’s rapidly evolving world where the skills required for different jobs have significantly changed over time due to advancements in technology and shifts in the economy. Young people in rural areas in particular encounter distinct challenges in accessing quality education and skills training, which limits their ability to stay competitive.
Turning youth problems into youth solutions
This is why Children Believe, an international child-focused organization and Generation Global, a flagship program of Tony Blair Institute have joined forces to provide rural youth and those from the marginalized community, with an opportunity to become confident, self-assured, active, engaged, and open-minded global citizens, fully prepared to tackle life’s challenges with a positive outlook and contribute to a sustainable future.
This partnership, which is now marking its first anniversary, has helped approximately 900 young people in India, Ghana and Burkina Faso experience the power of dialogue, improve their communication skills and better express their aspirations and values. They have also learned to confidently articulate their views and respectfully understand each other’s perspectives on critical topics such as climate change, peace and human rights.
The partnership focuses on co-creating opportunities for young people. Generation Global programs foster global citizenship education and enable youth to connect with their peers from various countries through intercultural dialogue, combining with Children Believe’s work to provide opportunities for youth to become climate and digital literates with technology access. Through this joint initiative, youth are inspired to reflect, question, and act responsibly as global citizens. The program fosters behaviors, attitudes, and values that empower them to become catalysts for positive, long-term change in their lives and communities. In addition, it emphasizes inclusivity, and actively engages young girls and marginalized youth in discussions and actions that challenge gender and cultural norms and address the pressing issue of climate change.
Inspirational Champions of Change
“It was hard to imagine that speaking out on issues is not a form of disrespect to elders, but actually a better way to let the elders know what children are going through in their communities and at home,” says Mariam, a Children’s club member from Ghana_. “Generation Global has improved my listening skills and makes me confident to talk about gender, climate change and my rights.”_
The Generation Global program has become an integral part of Children Believe’s work to build children’s forums such as Child–friendly accountability methodology clubs, Creative Learning Centres, and youth climate action clubs.
Global Citizenship Education – A Path to Green Skills and Sustainable Development
We are encouraged that this program is aligned with this year’s theme for International Youth Day, “Green Skills: Towards Sustainable Development,”, and one of the program’s outcomes directly aligns with the concept of green skills. Green Skills refer to the knowledge, abilities, values, and attitudes necessary for thriving in, contributing to, and advocating for sustainable, environmentally friendly, and resource-efficient societies.
“We are breaking the cycle of gender-based violence, poverty, and exclusion and creating a more just and sustainable community for ourselves and future generations,” says Prapavathy, a young girl from India who has been connected with youth from other parts of her country to deepen their understanding of climate change and the impact of human activities on the environment. Moreover, it inspired them to take sustainable actions, such as creating a plastic-free village and raising awareness about climate action among their peers at school.
With their newly found knowledge and skills young people are leading change in their communities.
“I never thought that girls like me would be able to make a difference in the fight against climate change, but with the Youth led climate action initiative and from video conferencing in Generation Global program, I realise that my actions matter,” said Yuva Chandrika, a young girl from a tribal community in India. Yuva has honed her leadership skills, overcome gender and social barriers and is leading a youth climate action club in her community. Youth in India who participated in the Generation Global program showcased their green skills through climate action including the promotion of micro forests, tree planting, solid waste management, and be advocates for sustainable lifestyles in their villages.
This partnership is aligned with the SDG goals and particularly SDG 4.7 as it supports the promotion of critical thinking, meaningful dialogue, and active participation in tackling sustainable development challenges. both locally and globally. Through our partnership we are fostering global citizenship and inspiring a collective commitment to building a more sustainable and harmonious world.