I recently spoke at a conference in Barcelona called ‘Fixing the Future’. The aim of the two-days was to bring together a range of different artists, creatives, entrepreneurs, activists, and professionals together to share their insights and knowledge on how we are going to, as the title of the conference suggests, fix the future. Run by Atlas of the Future (https://atlasofthefuture.org/) the sessions covered topics like the future of food, tech innovations, artistic depictions of the future. I was speaking on stage alongside activists from Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for the Future and was asked to share my experience of using law to bring about positive change and solve environmental problems (write up: https://atlasofthefuture.org/kirsty-schneeberger-is-using-the-law-to-protect-the-planet/)
It was an honour to share a platform with representatives of these movements that are agitating for change using non-violent direct action and leveraging the power of the media (traditional and social) to communicate their messages about demanding more action from governments on climate change issues. Their energy, passion, and determination was palpable and it was a reminder about how important it is that people stand up for what they believe in, in whatever way they can, to bring about long-lasting and positive change.
I was particularly struck by the two young girls, school children, involved in the Fridays for the Future movement who care so deeply about doing all they can to protect and fix their futures. To hear them speak about the need of their government to take action now to prevent the worst from happening in their lifetime. Their passion soon evolved into anger and rage at the system that is failing them when it has been designed – when it is meant – to protect them. How can the adults, those who are responsible, keep letting them down? They asked. Why can those in power not see beyond their own self interests and think about a greater good, not just for today’s generations but for generations to come?
It is a message I am very familiar with. When I was quite a bit younger than I am today (oh how the hands of time run on) I would campaign at the United Nations Climate Change meetings calling for negotiators and leaders to think about the future of my generation. Young people before me had been agitating for the system to wake-up to the severe consequences of climate change and do something about it long before David Attenborough’s voice rang out from the television screens warning of the impacts. It strikes me that young people have always held such an important and significant role in society for ‘calling out the emperor’s new clothes’.
The unique role and position young play is to demand for better of their elders. To remind those in power that there is a responsibility to the younger generations to leave the world in a better place than that which they found it in. Climate change is the true test of leadership and fulfilling that responsibility for it impacts by their very nature are intergenerational. We are all too familiar with the knowledge that the youngest today will be the ones dealing with the broken future. And so it is our collective responsibility to do what we can to fix the future together.
The Fridays for Future movement has changed the nature of the debate on what the solutions to the climate crisis are. The old and tired messages of it ‘being too expensive’ or that ‘there are other more pressing things to attend to’ just no longer stand up. The Prime Minister of Great Britain has recently committed to net-zero by 2050. This is a remarkable step towards leaders and politicians stepping up to the challenge and should be celebrated for its symbolism it represents. The first step in achieving any goal is to have a vision, and the country has that now. The opportunity now sits with all of us to work hard to play our part in achieving that goal.
For young people of today it is about choosing their careers to support their ambitions to fix the future. It could be that they see themselves as engineers, or architects, or lawyers, or chefs, or artists – all of whom will play an invaluable role in supporting and driving our collective efforts to succeed.
This is why organisations like the Inter Climate Network are so important to support and help students in deciding the kind of role they can play. Through the action in schools programme, the model UN climate conferences, and the knowledge development on environment issues, it is helping young people channel their passion, their energy, maybe even their anger, into playing their part and I am deeply impressed by the positive outcomes that it achieves.
So – here’s to us all putting our skills and expertise towards doing what we can to not just fix our future, but create and design it as would like to live it. The future is in all of our hands and no more so than the younger generation of leaders who are already stepping up to the challenge with courage.
Image courtesy of https://atlasofthefuture.org/