Date of the last update: 17.12.2021
Visualizing the world that awaits today’s young people in the year 2060 is disturbing in the face of current events and their trends. In 2021 the world has 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, 90% of whom live in developing countries. If various fundamental changes do not materialize, these young people will receive a deplorable inheritance: a planet disturbed in its climate and stripped of its natural beauty, devastated ecosystems, extinct biodiversity, installed inequality and poverty, a human society on the edge of the collapse.
Those who make political decisions at this time, who are over 50 years old on average, will surely not be alive by 2060. However, they are the main ones responsible for the soup of calamities to come. There is a lack of visibility of young people in political decisions and their long-term consequences. There is increasing awareness about the climate and inequality situation, but it is not enough to be aware if there are no solutions in place. In fact, the adults in power do very little to abolish poverty or mitigate climate change.
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During their youth, the generation that governs today, especially in Europe and the United States, was favoured by the welfare state, the improvement of democracy, and the rise of globalization. Therefore, it is not surprising the indignation caused by confirming that a good part of them are sceptics of climate change, enemies of migration, opponents of providing development aid, or holders of the shares of multinationals. These adults make up something like a League of Egoists for the Ugliness of the World.
The concentration of greenhouse gases has already caused the planet’s temperature to rise by 1.1 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era. If this trend continues, we will reach the worst scenario forecast in 2060: an increase in the average temperature of 4 ° C, where scorching hot days, extreme weather events, and ecosystems collapse would be multiplied by 8. It would be the drift of inconceivable selfishness of a part of the current generation of adults, inheriting an inhospitable planet from the young.
While discussing how to reduce emissions and who will pay for it, young people are engrossed in the phenomena of a global society. In 2019, 15% of the migrant population in the world was under 20 years of age. The impact of the covid 19 pandemic has caused unemployment, school or work, of 24% of young people between 15 and 24 years old, the highest level since 2006. One-third of young women on the planet have been victims of physical or sexual violence. One in seven children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 worldwide has a mental disorder, and some 46,000 commit suicide each year. Half of the world’s young people have serious difficulties meeting their basic needs as their lives are weighed down by poverty. Your present is as disturbing as your future.
The loss of natural beauty should be considered the most disastrous inheritance that we are preparing for young people, turning a beautiful planet into a disgusting world. We cannot expect them to feel optimistic about their future as the decision-makers prepare a rotten soup served on a rusty plate. However, there is (little) time left to prepare for a better world and clarify the relationship between the generations.
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The list of inexcusable solutions begins with a profound improvement of educational systems, especially during the first years of training up to secondary education. The best possible legacy is education, but not just any education. The education that the majority of the world’s young people receive today is irrelevant to face the challenges of the 21st century; it also reinforces social exclusion and individualism. It requires pedagogies that use innovative ways of learning and acting in groups, supported by non-alienating technologies, based on scientific inquiry, intuition and discernment of our place on earth. It is a teaching that takes into account real-life, human rights and nature, as well as the feelings and the own search that students carry. It is not only about training people for employment, but also about configuring creative people for life, capable of expressing themselves, associating with others and being sensitive to events and other living beings.
Likewise, to bring the generations closer together, it is necessary to understand the autonomy of young people differently. Since the 1960s, the idea of a youth living in their own world has been reinforced, as if breathing oxygen from another atmosphere or living on a separate island. There is indeed a field of self-management that belongs only to young people in the process of shaping their identity and when deciding their life trajectory. However, the adults who are by their side, such as parents, teachers, therapists or facilitators, can accompany their self-management processes and provide prescriptions based on empathy. Also, on the other hand, we must receive your opinion on our own processes and decisions. Young people and adults are contemporaries; we cohabit the same land, we are responsible for its destiny.
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To tackle the threats of climate change and inequalities, not only technology and discourses are needed. It is urgent to invest in all the necessary means to train and support the effective participation of young people in this critical stage of history. We require their participation, as much as they need to be included in every decision, especially those that will affect their future. The keyword could be consideration, that is, appreciation and respect for young people. It is a pressing need for the human species to save its place in the universe.
“The land is not an inheritance from our parents, but a loan from our children”, an Indian proverb.