Restrained by rhetoric? Youth engagement needs a narrative

19th July 2017


15- to 30-year-olds account for almost a fifth of the UK's population we're a group of passionate, energised and politically engaged individuals, but we lack the influence and platform to build a sustainable future at this time.

We are the first generation to grow up on a planet that is expected to change for the worse– from a sustainability perspective, at least. The rhetoric we face is one of social, economic and environmental fear, while we in turn are portrayed as lazy, cynical and apathetic. But the apathy of the millennial is exaggerated.

If there is one thing the past decade has shown, it’s that young people are reactive – and they react to hope. Take this year’s UK general election, for example, where the Labour party saw an unprecedented reaction and engagement from young voters. Why? Because it engaged with young voters, and gave a message of hope on key issues for young people, like climate change, tuition fees and public services. In any context, hope resonates more than fear.

Our engagement is an essential engine for change towards a sustainable future; I’m asking those in a position to guide us to do just that – show us the ways we can get involved to build a better future. We are informed and know the outcomes we’d like to see, but our lack of contacts and experience limits our effectiveness. We need your guidance on how to channel our energy into something tangible, and you, the established professionals, can help guide us to achieve this.

As a young person, I feel like the responsibility to take future action on the environment rests heavily on my generation’s shoulders, but we need the help of those who have already achieved so much to help to make that happen. Let’s work together to give a platform to the voice of the younger generations, and start creating a narrative of hope that we can really rally behind.

Natasha Yorke-Edgell, IEMA Futures

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

IEMA reviews political party manifestos

Ahead of the UK general election next month, IEMA has analysed the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green Party manifestos in relation to the sustainability agenda.

19th June 2024

Read more

Nine in 10 UK adults do not fully trust brands to accurately portray their climate commitments or follow the science all the time, a new survey has uncovered.

19th June 2024

Read more

Just one in 20 workers aged 27 and under have the skills needed to help drive the net-zero transition, compared with one in eight of the workforce as a whole, new LinkedIn data suggests.

18th June 2024

Read more

Consumers are flexing their purchasing power in support of more sustainable products and services. Dr Andrew Coburn, CEO of sustainability intelligence and analytics firm, Risilience, considers the risk of greenwashing and sets out three key steps businesses can take to avoid the pitfalls and meet the opportunities of changing consumer demand.

18th June 2024

Read more

With a Taskforce on Inequality and Social-related Financial Disclosures in the pipeline, Beth Knight talks to Chris Seekings about increased recognition of social sustainability

6th June 2024

Read more

Disinformation about the impossibility of averting the climate crisis is part of an alarming turn in denialist tactics, writes David Burrows

6th June 2024

Read more

While biodiversity net gain is now making inroads, marine net gain is still in its infancy. Ed Walker explores the balance between enabling development and safeguarding our marine environment

6th June 2024

Read more

David Symons, FIEMA, director of sustainability at WSP, and IEMA’s Lesley Wilson, tell Chris Seekings why a growing number of organisations are turning to nature-based solutions to meet their climate goals

6th June 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close