Enabling Youth for Just Transitions
On 9 March 2023, the Geneva Graduate Institute, in partnership with the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, hosted a hybrid event entitled “Enabling Youth for Just Transitions: The Way Ahead.” The aim of this event was to “highlight the challenges and opportunities that are shaping the biggest labor and environmental transformations of our time, shedding light on the importance of enabling youth in just transition discourses, activism, and policymaking” (GGI).
So, what does a “just transition” mean for youth? Agata Meysner, President of Generation Climate Europe, stated that a just transition for youth should provide a toolkit for policy-makers to engage youth in decisions on the just transition – these transitions primarily include environmental transitions and digital transitions. She recommended that EU member states must include, and should continue to encourage, youth representatives in the monitoring committees that will oversee the Just Transition Mechanism; in addition, the European Parliament should use all its monitoring powers to ensure that local communities are properly engaged in the just transition.
Meysner also mentioned several case studied where youth involvement has resulted in positive outcomes when collaborating with institutions, some of which include:
- Konin, Poland (2020): youth self-mobilization and a working group for young people; youth representative in decision making
- Ida Viru, Estonia (2021-22): citizen assembly for youth with input given to politicians; youth requesting follow up from politicians
- Florina, Greece (2021): youth self-mobilization and a call with national ministry; event with EU commissioner Ferreira
Frank Siebern, speaker for the Fair, Green, and Digital Transitions, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission, also provided helpful insight into the views of young people today with regard to the Just Transition. For example, Siebern noted that young people (aged 15-24) are more likely to:
- Be confident that by 2050, sustainable energy products and services will be affordable for everyone
- Agree that being in a job that contributes to advancing the green transition is important to them or that their current skills allow them to contribute to the green transition
- Feel a personal responsibility to act to limit climate change
- Women constitute only 32% of the renewable energy workforce
From these points, and many others made during the presentation, it is clear that the majority of young people have a positive outlook regarding the Just Transition. It is our role as protectors and providers of human rights, especially those of the youth, to ensure that young people have the knowledge and ability to access and express their rights in order to achieve personal fulfillment. In doing so, they can use their skills to continue bettering society as a whole.
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