Young People Hold the Key to
Terry Odendahl | October 26, 2015 9:46 am
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13, I participated in civil rights marches and other activities. A few years
later I was also active in anti-war marches and events. By the time I was 16, I
helped lead a protest at my high school, which ended with a ceremonial
tree-planting on the first Earth Day
in 1970. I was fortunate because my family supported and encouraged my
activism, as they have throughout my career.
look toward our planet’s future, I reflect on numerous examples from our past,
in which young generations not only helped lead, but also provided the main
spark that forced older decision-makers to push through change. The 1960s and
’70s in the U.S. are one big example. The Berliners tearing down the wall in
1989 is another. The Arab Spring in 2010/11 changed that corner of the world
forever. And more recently, the rise of 350.org and
its mass mobilization of
young people, which included the People’s Climate
March in New York in 2014, is a big new force in the fight to
address climate change.
Lopii, a herdsman and educator in Lorengelup, Kenya. Photo credit: Joe Lukhovi
clear that if we want change, we need to not only watch and listen to young
people, but also embrace and support them to help create the change our planet
needs. If the leaders at COP21
in Paris don’t get this message, they are simply missing the boat.
why Global Greengrants Fund is
partnering with 350.org to provide grants and assistance to international youth
groups that are working to fight and address the impacts of climate change in
their communities. In addition to Global Greengrants Fund’s normal
granting—which has provided $45 million to
grassroots and indigenous groups in 165 countries over the last 20
years—we are now in the process of granting out $475,000 specifically to
grassroots and frontline youth groups so they can mobilize the climate movement
in the lead-up to Paris. This grantmaking strategy is being directed by the
youth climate organizers who make up our Next Generation
Climate Board and 350.org’s global network of campaigners.
grantees are often from marginalized or indigenous communities that are already
being impacted by climate change and stand to be devastated as the chaos
worsens. They need to be given more opportunities to tell their stories and
lead. Developing and empowering their voices isn’t just a good idea—it’s a
Nabenyo educates villagers about climate change, Lorengelup, Kenya. Photo
credit: Joe Lukhovi
started searching around the world to find youth leaders and groups to fund
with our grants, we were amazed at the work that was already moving forward
that we were able to support. Young people from Peru to Malawi already had
structures in place to address the impacts of climate change in their
communities. Here’s the “#YouthOnClimate”
campaign that Global Greengrants and 350.org have put together:
• We’re making grants to groups in
Africa, Asia, Latin America and beyond.
• We’ve put together a series of videos to help
amplify emblematic young voices in Kenya, the Philippines and Ecuador.
• Our Call2Action
focuses on mobilizing youth around COP21 to engage in civil action in their
• We will have a contingent of youth
voices at events in Paris for COP21.
• We and others are moving “Through
Paris,” not “To Paris,” to make sure these young people have the tools and
resources needed to take the movement beyond Paris and back into their
traveled around the world and met with dozens and dozens of local environmental
groups and leaders. Young people, women, indigenous people and people from
countries in the Global South hold a key to the solution of climate change.
These groups bring a badly needed perspective, whether it is deep respect for
the Earth, concern for the future or new ideas and tactics.
is imperiling our youth, and so we are empowering our youth to fight it.