Nothing about us without us: how youth empowerment creates lasting change in the climate meltdown

climate_

(Markus Spiske, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Fatima Ali, a fifth-year medical student at Imperial College London who has also undertaken a degree in Business Management in Healthcare at Imperial College Business School. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Air pollution and climate change are two sides of the same coin. Both of which affect us all – but it affects all of us differently. Climate change and inequality are locked in a complex vicious cycle. Whilst inequalities determine the disproportionate negative effects of climate hazards on people at disadvantage, the impact of climate hazards in turn results in greater inequality. Therefore, to holistically tackle climate change, we must challenge structural injustices too.

As a driving economic engine of many national economies, the healthcare sector has a unique opportunity to illuminate the path forward. Consideration of environmental risk factors in exacerbating health inequality is vital in ensuring wider socio-political support for endorsing appropriate legislative action and upholding standards for environmental health protection.

Air pollution causes direct and indirect impacts to health. Directly, through cardiac or respiratory disease such as asthma. But it also causes indirect health impacts, such as causing low birth weight, affecting mental health, due to loss of home security, or malnutrition, due to drought. Despite this, schools/universities have not formally included the health impacts of climate change in the core curriculum or the injustices associated with it. We must all recognise that the most vulnerable, which form most of our health service users, are disproportionately affected.

Young people have the acumen, courage and bravery to speak with truth and make radical changes for the climate agenda – for example by forming interdisciplinary teams and innovating solutions. However, the responsibility for youth engagement is a two-way street. Figures in climate change and politics must empower their youth. Young people belong in all places where decisions are made as they will bear the burden of climate change over the course of their lifetimes, with future generations especially being impacted more severely. In order to achieve meaning youth participation in climate action, we can start by following three fundamental strategies: investing in youth engagement on the climate agenda, creating sustainable mutual partnerships and reforming organisational ethos to improve accessibility for young people.

The World Bank defined participatory development as “a process through which stakeholders influence and share control over development initiatives, and the decisions and resources which affect them.” Indeed, there are still disagreements between the youth about what good participation looks like. Regardless, if some shared values can be found with other stakeholders, then groups can collaborate to establish mutual trust and partnership. That, in turn, will lead to improved quality of representative environmental decisions, and young people having a sense of ownership over processes.

The success of climate youth groups, and individual activists alike, is a beautiful reminder that the fate of humanity, in this defining threat of our time, depends on fostering the youth and underrepresented voice and paving the way for meaningful mutual prosperity. We all have a responsibility to create further urgency and momentum for the climate agenda, as the repercussions for falling short would be so catastrophic that our world would be unrecognisable.

About the author

Fatima Ali is a fifth-year medical student at Imperial College London who has also undertaken a degree in Business Management in Healthcare at Imperial College Business School. As the UN Humanitarian Affairs Youth Peace Ambassador to the UK she engages with health-peace policy at a national and international level. Fatima also represented the UK at numerous events including the UN ECOSOC, EU Climate Summit and UN Humanitarian Affairs Summit. She is also a Healthcare Leadership Academy Scholar and is interested in public health and using innovation to create radical change in combating the defining threat of our time.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Global Goals offer ‘special opportunity’ to change course of development, Bosnian leader tells General Assembly

Portugal: Budget MEPs back €4.66 m in job-search aid for 730 redundant workers

Africa must use tech to chase corruption out of the shadows

More electric cars on EU roads by 2030

35th ACP-EU Assembly: migration and demographics will dominate the debate

EU voters not interested in the European Parliament elections. What’s behind this European Titanic?

Climate change is exacerbating hunger in some of the world’s poorest countries. And those most at risk are the least to blame

Manipulating privacy and reaping the benefits of technology

UN, world leaders, condemn Sri Lanka terrorist attacks targeting churches, hotels, which leave more than 200 dead

There’s a new global technology race. It needs better trade rules

How to keep essential value chains moving during the COVID-19 crisis

Four ways innovation can help to beat heart disease

The needs, challenges and power dynamics of refugee resettlement

A roadmap for repairing rural mobility in Japan – and beyond

Mental health and suicide prevention

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

Google case: A turning point in competition rules enforcement

Eurozone: How safe are our deposits? Which banks will survive?

This is what the gender pay gap looks like in eight countries

SMEs turning to alternative financing instruments as growth slows in bank lending

The unique role of business in building social good

A Sting Exclusive: “eHealth can change many dimensions of how the healthcare area functions”, Polish MEP Michal Boni underscores from Brussels

A Sting Exclusive: “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the new Sustainable Development Agenda”, Ulf Björnholm underscores from UNEP Brussels

Aviation Strategy for Europe: Commission signs landmark aviation agreements with China

In Venezuela, Bachelet calls on Government to release prisoners, appeals for ‘bold steps towards compromise’

Zero carbon buildings are possible following these four steps

Coronavirus: Commission stands ready to continue supporting EU’s agri-food sector

Coronavirus: 5 ways to work from home with your kids (and stay sane)

Moving from commitment to action on LGBTI equality

These countries have the best work-life balance

Satellites and data are going to help us phase out fossil fuels. Here’s how

Latvian economy is thriving, but boosting productivity, improving social protection and transitioning to a low-carbon productive model are vital for sustainable and inclusive growth

‘Dire consequences’ for a million children in the Middle East, North Africa, as funding dwindles

Mental health in the context of a pandemic: social distance

‘We will not give up on looking for peace for South Sudan’: UN deputy chief

Eurozone in trouble after Nicosia’s ‘no’

Meet the Seed Warrior: the man on a mission to rescue India’s rice diversity

This start-up is 3D-printing an entire neighbourhood in Mexico

The European Commission to stop Buffering

Inaction on obesity stands in the way of sustainable development

Huawei answers allegations about its selling prices

Can the Americans alone determine the future of Syria?

US – Russia bargain on Syria, Ukraine but EU kept out

Parliament backs measures to cut e-commerce VAT fraud

Real EU unemployment rate at 10.2%+4.1%+4.7%: Eurostat Update

Celebrities are helping the UK’s schoolchildren learn during lockdown

What the next 20 years will mean for jobs – and how to prepare

Coronavirus containment is the key, as infections tick up: Tedros

Coronavirus: Chinese aid to the EU delivered to Italy

From drone swarms to modified E. Coli: say hello to a new wave of cyberattacks

Hiring is broken. Here’s how to fix it

Violent disorder is on the rise. Is inequality to blame?

EU and China in search of a win-win agreement through strategic cooperation ahead of the EU-China summit

Innovation and entrepreneurship can cut waste and deliver the circular economy

Employment and Social Developments in Europe: 2019 review highlights that tackling climate change can be a driver for growth and jobs

Is the world living up to its climate commitments?

A Sting Exclusive: “Youth voice must be heard in climate change negotiations!”, Bérénice Jond Board Member of European Youth Forum demands from Brussels

Time to be welcome: Youth work and integration of young refugees

These are the world’s 10 most innovative economies

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s