The Power of Youth: Taking Action for Lasting Change and a Better Future
5 min read
By Yuri Takubo (Global Youth Programs Intern)
In today's world, the contributions of youth are critical in the fight against the climate crisis. Youth are a driving force of solution-building, policy making, and lasting change in society. While young people are increasingly aware of the challenges and risks posed by the climate crisis, they are also at the forefront of climate solutions, taking advantage of opportunities to achieve sustainable development and creating a more equitable and just future that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet.
Born out of the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a network of inspiring youth under the age of 30 who are working together to address local, regional, and global challenges. With over 10,000 members, the Global Shapers Community has over 500 city-based hubs in 150 countries. Since 2017, The Climate Reality Project has worked in partnership with the Global Shapers Community to educate Shapers on the climate crisis and equip them with the resources and skills to start projects that address local climate issues.
This past year, we have seen some remarkable efforts by hubs across the globe to combat climate change through projects supported by the Climate Reality Incubator Program and Climate Project Grant Challenge. To showcase their outstanding work as young leaders and inspire others to take local climate action, we are sharing four projects that cover a range of topics - from youth education to fast fashion.
Belo Horizonte Hub in Brazil
The Belo Horizonte hub has been operating for about nine years as one of the oldest hubs in Brazil. The hub is made up of talented young Brazilians who are committed to creating a better future for their community.
As one of the participants of the 2022 Climate Reality Incubator Program, the hub has implemented the Community Waste Education Project. The project addresses various impacts of climate change that the community is facing due to the inadequate and poor infrastructure of urban space in Belo Horizonte. Many members of the community are unaware of the link between the climate crisis and their poor living conditions. Through various trainings, including a collaboration with The Climate Reality Project Brazil, the program has had an impact on more than 160 people and has been able to develop several youth leaders who have learned about the impact of climate change on their lives. These leaders have become very active in their community, spreading the importance of climate activism and participating in various climate-related events. As project lead Natalia Tsuyama emphasizes, it is crucial to always work with the community. She told Climate Reality, “Always listen to the communities since they are the ones who know what they need.” With this concept in mind, the Belo Horizonte hub continues to work with local communities to share knowledge and protect the future of our planet.
Cotonou Hub in Benin
Launched in 2016, the Cotonou hub has been passionately working on many community and grassroots-based activities. As the only hub in Benin, they aim to use unique and new approaches that are not taken by other organizations to promote better change.
In 2022, the Cotonou hub won $10,000 USD from the Climate Project Grant Challenge. Their project, Green Fashion Hackathon and Incubation, addresses the issue of climate adaptation and mitigation in the fast fashion industry. The fast fashion industry produces huge amounts of emissions and waste that negatively impacts the people of countries like Benin that are the final destination for second-hand clothing. Alarmed by this reality, the hub launched three-part educational program to support individuals in Cotonou involved in fashion production processes. The program motivated, empowered, and equipped over 21 aspiring fashion industry professionals to design solutions to fast fashion problems in the community. Project lead Jessica Maureen Gaba emphasized that “we must continue investing in youth’s creativity as it brings many new ideas and solutions.” Using this project as a guideline, Cotonou hub will continue to educate individuals about climate and enhance creativity for better, eye-opening solutions.
Dalat Hub in Vietnam
The Dalat hub is a group of highly passionate youth who have been working for the past five to six years to improve the state of Dalat and Vietnam as a whole. The hub strongly believes youth to be a voice for the future of this world.
The Dalat hub began their project, Recycle Dalat, in January 2022 with the support of local partners. Later in 2022, they participated in The Climate Reality Project Incubator Program to further scale their impact. In Dalat, people are dependent on agriculture and tourism, which has generated huge amounts of plastic waste and damaged the ecosystem. To raise awareness and protect against further damage of the community, Recycle Dalat took a dual approach to climate action through supporting the restoration of ecosystems and collecting of plastic waste for re-use and recycling. As of August 2023, they were able to engage over 11,000 citizens through 12 workshops, collect 3,463kg of trash, and plant 1,193 trees. “Youth have unlimited possibilities and power to lead this world,” said project lead Tran Phung Nghi. With the current success of the project, the hub will continue to educate youth in becoming leaders in the community and the world.
Kolkata Hub in India
Kolkata hub has been operating since the Global Shapers program started in 2011. As one of the oldest hubs, they have hosted many activism workshops and projects, addressing a variety of issues including gender, education, and health.
In 2022, the hub participated in the Climate Reality Incubator Program. Recently, Kolkata had waste mountains as high as 16 meters. Coming from an area that is highly vulnerable to various climate issues, the hub raised awareness and created behavior changes that will have a sustainable impact. Their project, the Circular Kolkata Alliance Project, conducted 10 workshops with over 30 organizations and institutions to change environmentally harmful systems of production and consumption, resulting in the collection of more than 20,000kgs of waste for reuse, repurpose, upcycling, and recycling. The Kolkata hub will continue to offer such workshops as a way to encourage individuals to begin taking bold action against climate change.
Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges that we face today. The Climate Reality Project and Global Shapers Community partnership offers just one example of how young people gain the leadership skills, knowledge, and resources to fight climate change. By supporting youth in climate action, we are working towards a better future for us all.