By Jacob Wallace
This story is published as part of StudentNation's "Vision 2020: Election Stories From the Next Generation" reports from young journalists that center the concerns of diverse young voters. In this project, working with Dr. Sherri Williams, we recruited young journalists from different backgrounds to develop story ideas and reporting about their peers' concerns ahead of the most important election of our lives. We'll continue publishing two stories each week over the course of September.
In the speech she gave at the People's Climate March in Washington in 2017, Jansikwe Medina-Tayac, then 15, told a crowd of thousands, "This [climate change] is not just an environmental issue. This is a race issue, this is an immigration issue, this is a feminist issue."
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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By Alexandra Villarreal
As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
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By Holly Young
In what is being described as an unprecedented climate case, four children and two young adults from Portugal have filed a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg against 33 industrialized countries.
A First at Strasbourg<p>While there are numerous recent and ongoing climate cases, many also involving young plaintiffs, it is the first of its kind to be brought to Strasbourg. The international court, set up in 1959, deals with alleged violations of civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.</p><p>The pressing need for significant and wide-scale action among many large emitters warranted going directly to Strasbourg, rather than through domestic courts which is more common, explains Liston. "A decision from the European Court of Human Rights is urgently required in order to provide the legally binding decision that would then filter down and prompt the change that's required at the domestic level." </p><p>According to GLAN, if successful, the 33 countries would be legally bound to tackle overseas contributions to climate change, including that of multinational companies, as well as ramping up emissions cuts. While the timescale ahead and whether the court will decide if the case is admissible is not yet clear, Liston said they have applied for the case to be given priority. </p>
Portuguese Wildfires<p>The plaintiffs belong to three families and became involved in the case after hearing about GLAN's climate work through a local contact.</p><p>Many cited seeing climate change hit their doorsteps as encouraging them to act, particularly the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/portugal-breathes-sigh-of-relief-as-fires-brought-under-control/a-39367823" target="_blank">deadly Portuguese wildfires</a> in 2017. </p><p>"I directly experienced the terror of the fires," said Catarina Mota, 20, one of the four that live in Leiria, one of the areas hardest hit. Rising sea levels, the constant threat of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/yes-climate-change-fuels-forest-fires-but-thats-not-the-only-factor/a-41006333" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">forest fires</a> and increasingly abnormal temperatures are now part of her everyday reality. "These changes make me feel apprehensive," she said, adding sometimes the heat makes it hard to breathe or sleep. In July this year the <a href="https://www.ipma.pt/pt/media/noticias/news.detail.jsp?f=/pt/media/noticias/textos/resumo-clima-julho-20.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hottest temperatures</a> in 90 years were registered in the country. </p><p>"What motivated me to be involved in this case was the desire for a world where one can at least survive," said Catarina. "Because if nothing is done by our governments this will not happen."</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/fridays-for-future-uganda-climate-change-africa-activism-food-security-water/a-54732304" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate action</a>, such as this case, is necessary "in order to have a future and a healthy life without fear" said plaintiff Claudia Agostinho, 21. "Our generation and all future generations deserve this."</p>
Wave of Climate Litigation<p>The Strasbourg case is one of a growing wave of climate litigation around the world. <a href="https://www.lse.ac.uk/granthaminstitute/news/climate-change-litigation-shows-no-sign-of-abating-as-plaintiffs-use-a-variety-of-strategies-to-bring-lawsuits-against-governments-and-carbon-majors/" target="_blank">According to the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment</a>, while the majority happen in the U.S., over the last year climate cases were filed across six continents, 80% of them against governments.</p><p>It also noted a recent increase in litigation by activists and advocacy groups, and the use of human rights arguments. </p><p>While there are ongoing cases in many countries — including South Korea, Peru, and Canada — regarding states' human rights obligations to mitigate climate change, the most recent high-profile example is the Dutch <a href="https://www.urgenda.nl/en/themas/climate-case/" target="_blank">Urgenda case</a>.</p><p>In 2019 the country's Supreme Court became the first highest level domestic court to establish a state's duty to significantly and immediately reduce emissions in line with human rights obligations. This summer activists were <a href="https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/681b8633-3f57-41b5-9362-8cbc8e7d9215/2020_IESC_49.pdf/pdf#view=fitH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">also successful</a> in taking the Irish government to court over climate action failures. Greta Thunberg is among 16 youth activists who also have an ongoing legal complaint to the UN committee on the rights of the child. </p>
Politics, Protest and the Courts<p>"I think one case inspires the other," said Caroline Schroeder, from Germanwatch, an NGO supporting 9 young people with a <a href="https://www.germanwatch.org/en/constitutional-complaint" target="_blank">constitutional climate complaint</a> in Germany. She sees the Strasbourg case and growing trend of climate litigation as born of the same mounting frustration driving the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/cliamte-change-environment-greta-thunberg-merkel-global-strike-climate-action-luisa-neubauer/a-54618006" target="_blank">Fridays for Future</a> movement - namely, that "politics is not doing enough."</p><p>"I wish we wouldn't have to bring the cases," said Roda Verheyen, a climate lawyer working on the <a href="https://peoplesclimatecase.caneurope.org/" target="_blank">People's Climate Case</a> filed against the EU institutions. "But it is essentially still the case that the level of protection afforded to our children by the legislators is too low. And that's why the courts will keep seeing these cases." </p><p>Verheyen points out that in emphasizing a general duty to protect rather than challenging a specific law, the Strasbourg case is less concrete than others she has worked on. Yet a win there could have wide-reaching implications for member states, she adds, and even a loss could potentially "reinforce the strength of the litigation both in national cases and on the EU level."</p><p>Its ultimate strength, Liston argues, is in bringing home the time perspective and imminence of the threat.</p><p>"This case shows that there are people who stand to suffer horrendous effects of climate change within their lifetime," said Liston. </p><p>The youngest plaintiff, now 8, will be 28, in 2040, the year in which the UN panel of scientists expect <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">many of the most severe consequences</a> of climate change to unfold. </p><p>Andre, 12, said he hopes the case will bring "acknowledgement of the voice of a generation that lives with high anxiety and increasing fear of incoming catastrophes, but also a generation that has all the hope that things will change." </p>
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<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0ab00f0a59c8a494799a89e029d73597"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rrxRzLILTeI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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By Jessica Corbett
Swedish climate leader Greta Thunberg donned a mask and joined a socially distanced Fridays for Future protest in Berlin just a day after she and three other youth activists met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government took over the European Council presidency in July, to discuss the planetary emergency.
<div id="dc9a2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8229fb577f8697ac42ee3e8843974dc9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1296748619522093056" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">School strike week 105. We’re back, social distant. Berlin! #climatestrike #fridaysforfuture #schoolstrike4climate… https://t.co/jcY5vVtahZ</div> — Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)<a href="https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/statuses/1296748619522093056">1598003937.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="9032c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a0befc79f58c9dc4b239b3d6d45dada"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1296733781626257408" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">BREAKING: Nach dem Gespräch mit Merkel gestern haben heute 100 Aktivist:innen von #FridaysForFuture zusammen mit… https://t.co/e2UwCuZtNA</div> — Fridays for Future Berlin (@Fridays for Future Berlin)<a href="https://twitter.com/FFF_Berlin/statuses/1296733781626257408">1598000400.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="516c1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bc7d43c79b060445bfba2448e9003946"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1296698566455562240" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Week 36! #schoolstrike4climate from Kenya. let's stop talking and act!Action is better than words. We cannot eat co… https://t.co/WN3Nn5db4G</div> — Dorcas Wakio (@Dorcas Wakio)<a href="https://twitter.com/WakioDorcas/statuses/1296698566455562240">1597992004.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="ee5b3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f96586f8ace84eefa25e4f55ffaf3552"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1296642301255536641" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">#ClimateStrikeOnline week17 危機感を持てば、行動せずにはいられません。 危機に気づくということは行動するということです。 ※私たちの"行動しないリーダー"はまだ気候危機の深刻さを理解していないのです。… https://t.co/l0fxBus5lN</div> — Tenshin てんしん (@Tenshin てんしん)<a href="https://twitter.com/ShindoTenshin/statuses/1296642301255536641">1597978589.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="417d1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="272cf96a7e5bd51a38001515719e2f8c"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1296690147270909952" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">#FridaysForFuture climate strike at Sydney Town Hall https://t.co/N6DByTMqGK</div> — Fridays For Future Sydney (@Fridays For Future Sydney)<a href="https://twitter.com/fff_Sydney/statuses/1296690147270909952">1597989997.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"This is week 80 of my <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/schoolstrike4climate?src=hashtag_click" target="_blank">#schoolstrike4climate</a> but are you listening?" <a href="https://twitter.com/NamugerwaLeah/status/1296723352602718208" target="_blank">tweeted</a> Leah Namugerwa, a 16-year-old in Uganda. "Whether you do or not I'll continue doing what is right for my and future generations."</p>
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As climate activists, we can't fight the climate crisis without considering the systemic impacts that environmental racism and White supremacy have on the frontline communities most affected by pollution and our warming world.
Do a Social Media Audit and Reconsider Who You Follow<p>As the movement for social and environmental justice continues, it's important to pay attention to the voices and media outlets you're consuming information from. Take a few minutes to look at your social media feeds – do you follow people of color and diverse voices? Do you follow credible news sources?</p><p>Take a look at what you've posted so far and think about <em>why </em>you posted. As allies, we can help the movement by centering our posts and online actions around supporting the activists and organizers on the ground. Think or ask about how you can best amplify these causes – for many that could mean retweeting or reposting, educating your followers, or even by directing followers to donation or petition pages.</p><p>Next, take a look at who you follow. It can be easy to get stuck in a <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/problem-social-media-reinforcement-bubbles-what-you-can-do-about-ncna1063896" target="_blank">social media bubble</a>, where your social feed will filter out opinions you may not necessarily agree with. By continuing to audit your social media and expand your range of news sources or pages you follow to have varying opinions or backgrounds, you ensure you have a well-rounded news feed and could even hear about a news story that you may not have known about before!</p><p>For many environmental justice fights around the US and world, local news outlets and activists may be the ones covering the story first. By taking a look at our follower lists, it gives us space to recognize any information gaps! Check out the accounts of people you trust to follow useful resources and activists.</p><p>Need some recommendations to start you off? Here are some of the <a href="https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/top-climate-experts-follow-twitter" target="_blank">top climate scientists</a> and <a href="https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/young-climate-activists-follow-twitter" target="_blank">youth activists</a> we suggest you follow on social media.</p>
Challenge Yourself and Others to Continue Learning<p>It's okay not to know everything. In fact, it's completely normal.</p><p>One of the best parts of being a climate advocate is that we continue to learn and grow with the climate movement and science. To protect our air, water, and land from pollution, we have to stay up to date with the newest science and solutions – it's the same thing when advocating for social and environmental justice!</p><p>For many, this means keeping up to date on social media and in the news with what protests are happening and why, how we can support them, and what local organizations are doing to defend their communities. It also means trying to keep an ear out for the stories that major outlets aren't covering extensively.</p><p>Take the <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/atlantic-coast-pipeline-canceled-after-years-delays-accusations-environmental-injustice-n1232987" target="_blank">recent victory in the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for example</a>. Local environmental justice groups in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina had been fighting for years against the pipeline. When it was canceled a few weeks ago, activists celebrated, but the story never seemed to get the same level of attention as the latest tweet from the White House.</p><p>Social media gives us the opportunity to learn from others with varied experiences and gain resources to information that can make us better activists.</p>
Expect to Make Mistakes and Learn to Listen<p>We will all make mistakes. It's a part of continuing to educate ourselves and growing as an ally and activist. Even the most experienced advocates have said the wrong thing or made a mistake in their time.</p><p>For many of us, especially White climate activists, these may be relatively new concepts, but we must make the fight against racism our fight. Take a look back at what you've posted before and learn from any past mistakes, using this moment to learn what went wrong and share what you learned with others. By educating yourself, you can help others who may be experiencing similar mistakes or have questions.</p><p>Additionally, the best way to learn about the impacts of systemic racism on frontline communities being impacted by police brutality or climate change is to listen. Give Black activists and people of color an opportunity to tell their stories and give yourself time to reflect on their experiences. It may (and probably will be) uncomfortable in some moments but it's necessary to make progress in a movement where we can fight together for long-awaited justice.</p>
Use Your Platform and Following to Amplify Diverse Voices<p>Whether you have a big social media following, only follow close family and friends on social media, or don't have social media accounts at all – use the platform or online environment you have to amplify the voices of Black activists and people of color.</p><p>It can be as simple as sending an email to close friends or retweeting posts from local organizers. Sharing information from those on the front lines to those who trust and follow you not only helps local activists but can help educate others!</p><p>For many, you're a trusted messenger. What does that mean? You can read more about it in one of our <a href="https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/why-trusted-messengers-matter" target="_blank">past blogs</a>, but here's a quick definition from <a href="https://www.bu.edu/ise/2019/04/16/trusted-messenger/" target="_blank">Boston University:</a><br>"People believe people whom they trust, and they're more likely to act based on the recommendation of that influential other person."</p><p>Your family, friends, and followers trust you – use that privilege as an opportunity to educate them and amplify the voices of those leading the social and environmental justice fight!</p>
Want to Learn More About Climate Activism and Environmental Justice?<p>Feeling inspired to join the movement for environmental and climate justice? Sign up to learn more by becoming a Climate Reality Leader.</p><p>By signing up for one of our Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings, you'll learn about fossil fuel pollution and climate impacts on low-income families and communities of color, and how to build the broad, inclusive, and powerful coalitions necessary to fight back.</p><p>Join former Vice President Al Gore and an all-star lineup of environmental justice leaders, climate scientists, business leaders, and more to learn how to fight for a just, healthy future for all.</p>
By Inés M. Pousadela
In early 2020, as millions went into lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the environment experienced temporary relief from the impacts of human activity. As skies cleared and birds and animals claimed city spaces, it became apparent that the young people who had mobilized for the climate across the world in 2019 were right: Much environmental damage is the result of human action, and as such, can also be reversed through human initiative.
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By Abdullahi Alim
The 2008 financial crisis spurred a number of youth movements including Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. A decade later, this anger resurfaced in a new wave of global protests, from Hong Kong to Beirut to London, only this time driven by the children of the 2008 financial crisis.
1. Learn From the Past<p>Young people tend to be comfortable with change. Their instant adoption of technology is an example.<a target="_blank"> However, they may lack an understanding of the more permanent realities – requiring patience and </a>stoicism.</p><p>This wisdom is typically in the hands of individuals who either work within systems or who have accumulated far more tenure. This was effectively echoed by 13-year old activist, Naomi Wadler who <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17Aa6XLZe9A" target="_blank">said</a>, "We can educate our youth a lot better. We're not delving deeper into social justice movements from the past."</p><p>Youth movements that are informed by the success and pitfalls of prior efforts offer a more promising outcome. Take for example, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, co-founded by a 32-year old Alicia Garza.<span></span></p><p>Unlike the civil rights movement of the 1960's, BLM lacks central governance. This means that opponents can't attack its leadership as a means to discredit the whole movement. In the 1960's, this is exactly what happened to the civil rights movement, when critics went after Martin Luther King, stalling the collective efforts of the movement.</p><p>In fact, King spent his final year <a href="https://eu.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/04/04/martin-luther-king-jr-50-years-assassination-donald-trump-disapproval-column/482242002/" target="_blank">mired in public disapproval</a> with over 75% of Americans considering him "irrelevant" including 60% of African Americans.</p><p>By studying the legacy of previous efforts, BLM has managed to rally approximately <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/big-majorities-support-protests-over-floyd-killing-and-say-police-need-to-change-poll-finds/2020/06/08/6742d52c-a9b9-11ea-9063-e69bd6520940_story.html" target="_blank">75% of the American public</a>; a feat that will undeniably ensure the longevity of its cause.</p><p>For the youth climate movement, it too must reconcile the long record of activism that predates its tenure. It ought to model itself as an intergenerational movement by giving greater credence to the activists, environmental scientists and <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/juan-manuel-santos-colombia-indigenous-peoples-coronavirus-pandemic-climate-change-environment-nature/" target="_blank">indigenous elders</a> that have fought for climate justice before its inception and ultimately signal the nuance and maturity that would activate allies within systems of power.</p>
2. Become Part of Systems Change<p>From the college campus to the coworking space, you would be hard pressed to avoid the sight of a social impact competition that invites young people to resolve some of the world's most intractable problems.<br></p><p>Unsurprisingly, this often leads to problematic and incomplete solutions. Take, for example, <a href="https://ssir.org/articles/entry/tackling_heropreneurship" target="_blank">an app for African farmers</a> developed by students who have neither farmed nor been to Africa.<br></p><p>Fortunately, there is a growing shift towards empowering young people to better diagnose the systems that uphold inequality. For example, Oxford University hosts the annual <a href="http://www.oxfordglobalchallenge.com/" target="_blank">Map the System</a> competition to celebrate some of the most promising youth-led mappings and the World Economic Forum's <a href="https://www.globalshapers.org/story" target="_blank">Global Shapers Community</a> convenes more than 7,000 young people under the age of 30 to address local, regional and global challenges.</p><p>To achieve systemic change, young changemakers must first unpack systems into <a href="https://wtf.tw/ref/meadows.pdf" target="_blank">three components</a>; elements, interconnections and functions:</p><ul><li>Elements are essentially the key stakeholders in the system. This can include individuals, land or objects.</li><li>Interconnections are the laws and social norms that bind the elements together.</li><li>Functions are the end-goals.</li></ul><p>Take for example, the persistence of sexual harassment in the workplace as a systems issue. The elements in the system would include the victim, perpetrator and other intermediary bodies including line managers and human resource teams. The interconnections could include forced arbitration laws that prohibit employees from seeking public courts and a managerial culture that protects high performing perpetrators and pressures victims into silence. In which case, the ultimate functions (or rather dysfunctions) of the system discourage victims from pursuing action and enable perpetrators and enablers to enjoy the benefits of career progression without due trial.</p><p>Systemic change is about redesigning the interconnections (the cultural norms and laws). In the example above, it involves challenging the use of private arbitrary courts and uprooting a toxic work culture. Reclaiming this intuition opens a pandora's box that ultimately allows for any given system to operate more inclusively.<br></p><p>Today, young changemakers can rely on online resources like <a href="http://systems-ledleadership.com/" target="_blank">Systems-Led-Leadership</a> to analyze any given system of inequality and then direct their unique skills and knowledge towards the most effective intervention.</p>
3. Avoid Heropreneurship<p>Daniela Papi-Thornton first coined the term <a href="http://tacklingheropreneurship.com/" target="_blank">heropreneurship</a> to describe a growing trend that credits social change to the "founder" of an organization or movement exclusively.</p><p>This culture has inspired an entire generation of young change-makers who are swayed by the allure of the "heroic" founder and whose behaviors are validated through youth awards, grants and speaking circuits that glorify a role in the limelight. This pervasive culture undercuts the entire spectrum of actors that really creates social change.</p><p>Social change does not necessarily warrant the creation of a new organization or movement. Change-makers should consider the root causes that perpetuate and uphold inequalities and then map the existing players and solutions. This process might point to scaling up the work of an existing organization or helping a local candidate run for office.<br><br>For young people who wish to create social change, their efforts – while extremely important – may go unnoticed. This is an expectation that needs to be managed.<br></p>
4. Know Your Place<p>In 2016, a political action committee entitled <a href="http://canyounot.org/" target="_blank">Can You Not</a> emerged with the aim of discouraging white men from running for office in minority districts.</p><p>Despite the comical graphics, the campaign highlights an important question for young changemakers, particularly if they advocate for issues that they have not lived: in the quest for social change, can the actions of change-makers unwittingly perpetuate injustices, even as they seek to end them?<br></p><p>In the example above, could the notion of a white man effectively assuming the role of a translator between minority communities and government only reinforce their structural underrepresentation in political decision-making? Could the desire to assume office without lived experience also signal little faith in the leadership of the very communities being served?<br></p><p>A more effective approach to social change may be to encourage such actors to take stock of the unintended consequences of misrepresentation. In doing so, they may come to appreciate the importance of "stepping back" to allow others to "step forward." More concretely, this could result in building trusted relationships with the community and eventually empowering more local voices to consider public leadership.<br></p><p>For young changemakers, it is pivotal that they assess their own standing in a given system and avoid perpetuating the very inequalities they wish to tackle.</p>
Strategic Intelligence: Youth Perspectives. World Economic Forum
A More Targeted, Effective Kind of Activism<p>Social media has played its critical part in providing young people with a vehicle to advocate for social reform.</p><p>Whether it's <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/23/greta-thunberg-speech-un-2019-address" target="_blank">Greta Thunberg's speech</a> during the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 or <a href="https://variety.com/2018/politics/features/emma-gonzalez-parkland-interview-1202972485/" target="_blank">Emma Gonzalez</a> rallying crowds for more stringent gun control. younger voices are swaying public opinion and pressuring political systems to operate more inclusively.<br></p><p>The impact of these extraordinary young people is inspiring, but arguably they struggle to provide a course of action for the average young person who is motivated to pursue social change. The inconvenient truth is that social reform is difficult and even more so for a young person who wrestles with challenges related to experience and credibility.<br></p><p>To be more effective, young changemakers must forge greater bonds with late-stage activists as well as potential allies within systems of power. They must also understand the systems that uphold equality and pinpoint the intervention that would most likely inspire systemic change.<br></p><p>Finally, it is pivotal that they invest in a support system and seek to dissolve <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/this-is-how-wellbeing-drives-social-change-and-why-cultural-leaders-need-to-talk-about-it" target="_blank">personal anxieties</a> that may compromise their change-making potential.</p><p>It's time for youth activism to grow up.</p>
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