Updated: Oct 29
Not only for the planet, but also for their own emotional wellness
(excerpt from presentation at 5th Urban Economy Forum + 59th ISOCARP World Planning Congress for Climate Action, Urban Finance | Toronto, Canada: For Decarbonisation of Urban Transport - on Oct 11, 2023
There are five key reasons why we need to Invest Younger and engage with children and teens. When it comes to reducing school traffic by promoting walking and cycling to school, they already have the capacity to take on the role of local experts.
1 - Invest Younger to Manage Climate Anxiety
A recent study of young people's views, found that over "70% of children 7-12 are worried about climate change …but they also want to make a difference". Without agency to take part in meaningful solutions can be disempowering. Our actions must engage young people in meaningful climate actions so that their mental wellness is also attended to.
2 - Invest Younger to Cultivate Successful Climate Action Leaders
A small group of 10-year-olds working to promote walking to school have repeatedly proven effective in short term successes to reduce the number of cars arriving at their school. The credibility of being a ‘sanctioned’ group offers not only guidance but helps these young activists show their leadership skills amongst peers, "without coming across as bossy" - as one student leader put it.
3 - Invest Younger to Inspire Confidence that will Encourage More Youth Leaders
Youth leaders, who’s successes raise confidence amongst their peers, inspire even more change agents into action.
4 - Invest Younger to Activate Hope and Creativity
'Play' and 'fun' figured as important themes in the UEF+ISOCARP Mayoral Round Table in Toronto. Erion Veliaj, the Mayor of Tirana, Albania talked about paying attention to the needs of children when he said: "We take play seriously." And Amanda McDougall, Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia talked about engaging with children, where "behaviour creates healthy competition that they bring home to their families". Both of these sentiments highlight that hope and creativity in looking ahead are not trivial, but strategic.
5 - Invest Younger to Motivate Healthy Lifestyle & Career Choices
Hamburg's 10-year-old children will be well into their careers by 2045 - the target year of that region's climate action plan. Not only will child and youth engagement help them to better assess their own healthy lifestyle choices, it will help set them explore career paths that will bring innovation into our climate action.