Young people from around the world came together on 11th June for a youth-led discussion on ecosystem restoration, the theme of this year’s Environment Day, and its relationship with sustainable cities and communities.
The world’s cities occupy just 3% of the Earth’s land, but account for 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions.
Hosted by youth power panelist Muchtazar, participants of the call were first asked to reflect on what kind of future cities they wanted to see and live in. Their answers touched on inclusion, accessibility, creativity and culture, renewable energy, public transport, green spaces, zero waste and access to services. Here’s a snapshot of what they said:
I would like to see more harnessing of renewable energy sources in urban spaces. Such as solar panels and community gardens which can feed local people. Reducing transport costs and emissions of fresh goods.
I envision future cities to be places where we shift completely to renewable energy, offer green spaces, clean transportation, biodegradable packaging, planting trees.
I’d like to see assistance for people with disabilities, paintings/ art that reflect the cities culture, more parks and trees, resting spaces for people living with mental health problems/disabilities.
In the second action-oriented part of the discussion, participants shared their experiences and ideas for what actions young people could take towards achieving these ideal future sustainable cities and communities.
Participants spoke about educating others, advocacy, corporate accountability and employee activism, prioritising culture and art, individual responsibility and volunteering. Here’s a snapshot of what they said:
As young people we can create awareness through training and reach to more people through educating them. We can also volunteer and aid in creating ideal sustainable cities and communities for instance through planting trees.
Corporate Social Responsibility projects to give back to the environment. Run programmes on climate change while running their regular business. Tap into the power of youth because they have the time, energy and power to make change happen.
We should teach others about the impact of climate change, through advocacy work and engaging policy makers, governments, nonprofits.
Finance departments need to have the ability to successfully make the financial case for the investments required to deliver sustainability and regeneration by factoring in the financial aspects of ancillary benefits of measures to be taken, such as: job creation, reducing inequalities, reducing crime and congestion, and improving citizen health and well-being.