“Your generation will be essential now to lead tomorrow to be able to manage and reverse this trend and rescue the planet”, expressed United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to youth activists gathered in Lisbon for the 2022 UN Ocean Conference . Far from being the first time that younger generations have encountered words to this effect, they nonetheless are addressed to a demographic who is having to deal with large-scale social turmoil, difficult working conditions, and limited capital [2, 3]. While Guterres called for rapid drastic action from the world’s youth to curb the effects of the climate crisis, younger generations are still far from reaching key decision-making positions capable of enacting widespread policy changes and feel increasingly disenfranchised by the currency political spectrum .
Faced with a herculean task and no clear pathway available for them to implement solutions, the deck is stacked against them – but today’s youth is adapting .
Force for Good
Evident in widespread global mobilizations on topics of climate change and social justice, young people are keen on getting their voice heard. Where channels or organizations were not available for them to influence politics, education, or technology, they created them. From Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future to advocacy groups such as the Sunrise Movement or ClimaTalk, young people are creating their own organizations with little to no funding. Through these initiatives they are galvanizing and mobilizing people to call for stronger political action and intend to have an influence on global decision-making [6-8].
This determination to enact change coupled with their looming dominance within the workforce makes Millennials and Gen Z a force to reckon with. These generations wish to see more change at a climate and society level than the ones before them, and as their influence grows companies should listen to what they have to say [5, 9]. Businesses are capable of being changemakers, and with global policies slowly encouraging them to shift to a sustainable business model, there is a need for more proactive action from companies .
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Today’s youth has shown an unprecedented level of determination to have their voice heard, when they are not in the streets protesting, they are raising awareness online, lobbying politicians for action and supporting organizations aligned with their views [5-10]. Companies and businesses seeking to have a positive impact on their community and staying ahead of the economic curve need only one thing: listen to the youth. Engagement with local youth organizations, asking them their thoughts on products, services, and where they see improvements being made will facilitate dialogue and change . Today’s youth will only see their consumer power and influence grow. The impact they are having today will be magnified in the future – are you on the right side of history?
- Today’s youth are more active than previous generations in terms of activism ;
- Young people have identified gaps in knowledge and education, and have created their own organizations with little to no funding to tackle major issues [6-8]; and
- These generations are set to become the dominant economic driver within the next decade, businesses must take their wants into consideration [9-11].
 United Nations, 2022, “Youth are the generation that will help save our ocean and our future, says UN chief”, UN News.
 Hillary Hoffower, 2021, “Gen Z was hit hardest by the pandemic”, Business Insider.
 Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Gen Z Challenge Status Quo”, LEAD-WiSE.
 Małgorzata Zachara, 2020, “The Millennial generation in the context of political power: A leadership gap?” Leadership, 16(2):241-258.
 Alec Tyson, Brian Kennedy and Cary Funk, 2021, “Gen Z, Millennials Stand Out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement With Issue”, Pew Research Centre.
 Fridays for Future, 2022, “Who We Are”, Fridays for Future.
 Sunrise Movement, 2022, “Sunrise’s Principles”, Sunrise Movement.
 ClimaTalk, 2022, “Who We Are”, ClimaTalk.
 Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Net-Zero: The Future of Sustainable Businesses”, LEAD-WiSE.
 Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Changing The Status Quo”, LEAD-WiSE.
 Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Sustainable Change Through Education”, LEAD-WiSE.