News - August 16, 2023

Long-term Thinking through Youth Empowerment

Strengthening the national roadmap in Switzerland to keep global warming under 1.5C necessitates the development and enactment of ambitious sustainable policies and legislations that can speed up a societal transformation. To drive this change, it is crucial to garner extensive support from civil society to foster acceptance and design a just and equitable transition. This article aims to underscore the crucial importance of youth empowerment and mobilisation in this context. By engaging youth advocates' commitment to long-term thinking and giving them the space to advocate for sustainable policies and legislation, Switzerland can pave the way for a forward-thinking and ambitious path towards sustainability.

The specificities of Switzerland's political system allow civic organizations and individuals to play a significant role in shaping climate policies. Through initiatives and votations, ambitious sustainable policies and legislation can either be stalled or successfully implemented. The recent momentous vote on the climate law serves as a striking example of this, illustrating as well the ability of civil organisations to educate and influence Swiss citizens. Resistance to change, lack of knowledge or bias on sustainable policies and technologies all hinder the social acceptance necessary to shift our society toward a sustainable state. The role of the youth in encouraging long-term thinking and in highlighting the urgency of necessary actions is key to overcoming these barriers.

If Switzerland is to maintain global warming below the 1.5C threshold as defined by the Paris Agreement, it must expand upon its current efforts. Such a shift would require civil society engagement to take center stage, as only collective actions and a broader paradigm shift could support such a bold transition. Within these parameters, the youth would play a crucial role in raising awareness around climate change and advocating for ambitious climate policies. Beyond inspiring young people to challenge the prevailing order through political engagement and informed professional choices, young leaders possess a unique capacity to engage a diverse array of stakeholders.

In this context, Swiss Youth for Climate (SYFC) is empowering and mobilizing youth in climate politics. With the aim to foster the adoption of ambitious climate policies, SYFC organises actions at the international, national and regional levels around the following key activities:

● Advocating for pragmatic, responsible, and ambitious climate change policies at the international and national levels;

● Raising awareness about the climate crisis and the importance of quick global and local actions;

● Mobilizing the public, specially younger generations, to promote an ecological transition.

The organization, for example, launched an initiative called Adopt a decision maker for the youth to dialogue directly with parliamentarians from diverse horizons with the aim to engage all political parties on a sustainable path. This initiative serves a dual purpose: while empowering young people by helping them understand developments on key national policies, it also gives the youth a platform to voice their interests within Switzerland’s political decision-making sphere.

National communication campaigns like the one organised by the organization Pour un réveil écologique in France was also replicated in Switzerland by SYFC to educate the Swiss population about the key takeaways from the latest IPCC report. With more than a thousand posters showcased throughout Switzerland as well as an effective online communication campaign, this campaign reached a substantial number of people, disseminating key climate science to the public.

Finally, young leaders are also bringing their ambitions to the international stage by formulating official recommendations from the Swiss youth for the Swiss delegations going to climate conferences. Furthering such initiatives can spur the momentum required for the creation and implementation of policies that can effectively deal with the climate emergency we are currently facing.

In conclusion, the journey towards a sustainable and resilient future in Switzerland necessitates a comprehensive and collaborative approach, and youth empowerment and mobilisation stand at the forefront of this transformative endeavor. As the nation strives for the 2030 agenda and 1.5°C threshold, the role of ambitious sustainable policies and legislation cannot be overstated. However, the path to such change is intricately linked to the engagement of the younger generation, who bring forth a fresh perspective, long-term vision, and unyielding determination to drive meaningful action. This necessitates not just the development of bold policies, but their wholehearted acceptance and implementation by society. The empowering partnership between youth and sustainable legislation, as illustrated in this article, constitutes a bedrock of this transformation – and is embodied by the work of SYFC.

Written by Swiss Youth for Climate on August 16, 2023

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