More than the 'iGen', Part 2
This blog post is written by Maggie Zeh, a senior at Rock Canyon High School that is working with Lotus as part of her senior career exploration coursework. Maggie is passionate about the environment and interested in pursuing a carrier in sustainability. This is Part 2 of a blog post Maggie wrote about youth action in climate change; to learn more about youth involvement in the climate action movement, please be sure to read Part 1 as well.
Youth Engagement on an International Scale
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is dedicated to working with countries around the world to reach agreements to come together and reduce the damage of climate change. One fundamental component of this is youth engagement. Many of these conferences involve youth activities, including workshops to educate kids about climate change and inspire them to take action in their own communities. Youth briefings also give children and teens access to high level delegates to ask their own most pressing questions. One of the most exciting events is the Annual Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change, where young people from around the world produce and enter their videos about different categories of climate change. In 2018, two individuals from Mexico and India were named the winners and had the honor to attend a conference in Poland to be recognized and show their videos to a broad audience.
Engaging Youth Through Social Media
One of the best ways to convey a message to younger generations is through social media. This has inspired many people to turn to applications such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to spread the word about climate change. Many teens follow their favorite celebrities on these platforms to stay up to date with their lives. A large number of celebrities use their fame for a good cause: to educate their fans about a cause they believe in. One prime example of this is Leonardo DiCaprio. In addition to being a very successful and well-known actor, DiCaprio happens to be a very dedicated environmentalist, who uses his platform to spread the message to his fan base. Instead of finding photos related to his latest movies and awards on his Instagram profile, it is filled with photos of the environment. These photos are accompanied by captions that describe current events relating to climate change and what can be done to mitigate it. Many young people use social media to receive quick news updates.
Personally, I follow the United Nation’s Environment Programme on Instagram to stay up-to-date in this field. This page, and those similar to it, instigates further research among people of all ages. Many young people also use their personal profiles to spread their thoughts about climate change on a smaller scale. The popular app Snapchat can also have a similar effect. Users can choose to subscribe to different news platforms’ “Stories”. Many of these are related to pop culture, but there are still others that are more informative about current matters. For example, National Geographic has a “Story” everyday, and some of the articles found in it are related to climate change. As teens scroll through the feed of these different platforms, they are bound to come in contact with articles and information relating to these issues.
Small Town Involvement
The city of Saint Louis Park, Minnesota, has set a very ambitious Climate Action Plan (CAP), with the ultimate goal of being carbon neutral by 2040. Youth involvement has played a key role in the development of this plan through the local high schools Roots and Shoots environmental club; these youth continue to be involved in the implementation of the climate action plan through outreach and education efforts in the community. Across the state of Minnesota many young people have come together under the campaign “MN Can’t Wait” and they have demands for all three branches of the government. They recently met with their new governor, Tim Walz, to express their demands. Walz agreed that he shared their sense of urgency, but has not yet taken executive action on the issue. The group also has goals to prevent any new climate infrastructure as well as to help a transition to a more sustainable economy. These kids are a great example of how age does not need to limit their aspirations and achievements.
Climate change is a rising issue that is gaining more and more attention from all generations. Young people particularly stand out in this field because we are the group of people who are set up to face the most dramatic effects yet. Many of us have been inspired for different reasons to take action and be a force of change in this modern issue.