Shaping the future

Kirsty Schneeberger | 11 years ago

What would you like the year 2050 to be like?  What should it feel like and what kind of a life do you hope to be living?  It might at first seem a little bit peculiar to ponder these questions and begin to articulate a response.  For some it really is a bit too far into the future to give it more than a fleeting thought and for others it might just be too sci-fi to contemplate.  But for my generation, sometimes called ‘Gen Y’, thinking about 2050 is something we often do and not just when we are absent mindedly day dreaming, but we think about it in a considered, and deliberate way.  This is because 2050 is a part of our future and we are working to help shape it.

For some years now groups like the UK Youth Climate Coalition and the wider international youth constituency have been travelling to United National climate change negotiations to participate in the decision making process that decides not only on the level of carbon reduction each country will commit to, but also what the ‘shared vision’ for 2050 is.  As a constituency of young people we are very keen to be involved in shaping the policy and resulting activities that will impact on our futures, which is why as advocates we encourage decision-makers to integrate intergenerational equity into their work.

In the UK this integration is already taking shape through the formation and function of the Department of Energy and Climate Change Youth Advisory Panel. This Panel is made up of a range of young people who are linked in to different youth organisations and networks around the country.  Together they meet with DECC policy officers, and when relevant Ministers, to discuss the youth perspective on energy and climate change policy.  This Panel ran as a pilot scheme during 2010 and the inaugural report on energy policy (available to download from the website) was published in December 2010.  The Panel is continuing in full swing this year, with an interesting programme of activities planned and is just one example of how ‘thinking about 2050’ can be brought into mainstream government decision-making.

At the international level, the Youth constituency to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change  successfully worked with country negotiators to strengthen Article 6 of the Convention, which relates to education, training and public awareness’ on environmental issues.  There is now an emphasis on implementation of Article 6 and how at the national level youth can – and should be – more involved in  participating in the process of decision making relating to the environment [see this blog for more information on this: ]

There is an online advocacy platform that shares these examples of intergenerational equity working in practice, think2050, and it is as a development of the idea of thinking about 2050 that I work as a consultant to help organisations, community groups and the DECC Youth Panel to take a longer view about the impacts of their actions.  More than anything ‘think2050’ is an idea that I hope will pervade the thinking of all people who have some sort of decision-making authority, whether it is someone in the Government or an MP, a mother choosing the food for her baby, or a community leader who is helping to support grass roots youth projects.  If we keep asking ourselves what we hope 2050 will look like then we can work together to create that 2050 and safeguard the future for not just my generation, but for generations to come.

About the author

Kirsty Schneeberger

Kirsty is an environmental advocate and campaigner. She is Climate Change Manager at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Her interest includes climate change and the environmental inheritance we leave to future generations.