Big Challenge? Big Thinking.

This article was originally published by YouthPolicy.org.

antoine ebel

Author : Antoine Ebel is a student of public affairs and government at Sciences Po (Paris), whose lifestyle, interests and career plans were more than slightly rerouted the day he realized that climate change was not « only » an existential threat to our planet and civilization, but also one of the most fascinating political challenges of our time.

It’s hard to admit, but after a few years of activism on climate change (or, I would imagine, most other issues), it’s not uncommon for our young imaginations to start shrinking.  A failure at the climate talks, an ambitious event with a disappointing follow-up, an online campaign that goes unnoticed… many things can act as a reminder that as young people in the climate battle, there are many things which work against us. We lack experience, contacts and resources; we are disorganized and tend to dilute our efforts; we sometimes fail to bridge the credibility gap with our elders.

At times, it gets hard to think that as youth, we have the power to actually have a positive impact on a challenge of such gigantic magnitude. And it gets easy to satisfy ourselves with initiatives that are low in originality, ambition and impact, as long as they’re fun to carry out and kind of go in the right direction.

3569079975The youth competition is being organised in partnership with CliMates and judged by The Elders.

This is probably why it has been so much fun for me and all the other people working on it to run an ideas contest with the Climate CoLab (amazing project, go check it out!) and The Elders on this all-too important topic: how can we enable young people to take leadership now, and make a difference against climate change?

Many of us have rolled their eyes at the overused statement that “young people are the leaders of tomorrow”.

This was an opportunity to move beyond it and explore ambitious and original ways to boost the impact of young people on an issue that threatens them more than most. In accordance with the Climate CoLab rules, the contest gathered ideas for several weeks: anyone could pitch in, others could “like” and comment, and the Judges would eventually pick out the best ones.

As proof, perhaps, that the contest stroke a sensitive chord, we got no less than forty full-length, mostly youth-led proposals in just over two months – creating a tax to modify behaviour and finance youth climate action, devising a global youth plan to keep fossil fuels in the ground, putting in place psychological support for climate activists, holding “election boot camps” to get young people into office…

… many ideas were bold, crazy, original, or downright unfeasible. Some were all of that at the same time! And others had that perfect blend of idealism and pragmatism.

The contest is now moving to its final phase, and it’s down to the five most creative-yet-relevant-and-achievable ones. You can vote for your favorite here. But you can also honor the contest’s spirit by remembering that in spite of our weaknesses, we are the most numerous, educated and connected generation in history.

Surely, there are more things we can do about “this climate change thing”!

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