Youth leadership is the only route to Climate Justice.

Traditional topdown and exclusionary models of leadership have failed to deliver climate justice, young people are reimagining these models, say Jevanic Henry and Inés Yábar.

As a young girl, I quickly learned that to find what you love, you won’t necessarily love what you find. I did not love finding out about plastic pollution however this led me to love working towards a more plastic free future with inspiring teams and concrete outcomes.

So, find what you don’t love and act on it so it becomes what you love.”       

Inés Yábar 

What a year 2020 has been. The economic, health and social crises we are facing seem to have taken a turn for the worse. There’s a lot not to love. 

This decade we must take urgent action for people and for the planet. To drive the Sustainable Development Agenda we need extraordinary youth leadership. It is vital that as young people we start shaping the world which we desire, and one that future generations can enjoy. We can no longer afford to take the passive approach of allowing others to dictate our future. It is essential that we continue increasing youth engagement and youth movements, to tackle the environmental and health crises in our communities, our countries and our world.

If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

The recent WWF Virtual Youth Changemakers Convention in October demonstrated that this extraordinary leadership exists, and that’s something to love. It was undoubtedly a major global event bringing together over 500 youth leaders from around the globe to share ideas, gain knowledge and build connections, ultimately aimed at further amplifying efforts towards the protection of our planet. As Youth Power Panelists we were delighted to be there and to lead an interactive Youth Leadership Session on ‘Leading, Your Way’. In addition to sharing  inspiring stories by young leaders, it also provided a platform for identifying the essential qualities needed by leaders in this dynamic era.

A new model of youth leadership

What has made me become a young leader in my community is recognising the gaps and acting on them. I also believe skills such as compromise and positivity are essential for becoming a leader today.

Jevanic Henry

In our session we worked to identify what this leadership would look like? What were the essential qualities necessary for leading the world in its existential struggle? Some of the terms we discussed were traditional and some desperately lacking from our global leaders. Positivity, compromise, communication, passion, inclusivity, open mindedness, teamwork passion, collaboration, communication, trust and empathy; were just some of the terms in the word cloud this room of young leaders built. It was inspiring to see that as young people we are aware of the qualities needed to drive urgent action towards global action whilst ensuring we leave no one behind.

Bringing youth leadership to bear.

After this session we watched the launch of David Attenborough’s film ‘A Life on Our Planet’ where he shared his vision for the future of this world. It is a vision we share, and we know we have what we need to make it a reality. 

Covid-19 cannot dampen our thrust towards environmental protection. Now is the time to remain active ensuring that climate justice issues remain central to all recovery efforts. Every one of us has a role to play in this global battle, which is why we must all be leaders by example and in action. In any way that we can, in those areas we are passionate about we must catalyse a global green recovery and ensure we remain on track in protecting this planet for this generation and those to come! 

To find out what steps you can take towards resolving the climate crisis, head over to the Count us in campaign and share what you are doing in this shift towards a greener future.   

Feature Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Jevanic Henry

Jevanic Henry

Jevanic is a young environmentalist, youth leader and community activist currently pursuing final year undergraduate studies in Economics and Finance at the University of the West Indies. Despite this he continues to be involved in climate change advocacy and activism nationally, regionally and on the international stage, a passion which was fueled after representing his country at the Regional Youth Climate Change Conference in Jamaica in 2017. Jevanic, along with fellow attendees formulated the Youth Climate Change Activists (YCCA) movement which seeks to raise climate change awareness and action throughout the region.

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Youth leadership is the only route to Climate Justice.

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