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The deterioration of the natural environment is one of the principal concerns of young people worldwide as it has direct implications for their well-being now and in the future. While every segment of society is responsible for maintaining the environmental integrity of the community, youth have a special interest in a healthy environment because they will be the ones to inherit it. The involvement of youth in environment and development decision-making is critical to the implementation of policies of sustainable development.
The World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond
Youth - the most vibrant and dynamic segment of a nation’s population is an essential part of society. It is the most natural source of creativity and enthusiasm, having the necessary drive to address matters of concern.

Today’s youth has grown up in a world where the line dividing humanity on the basis of class, creed, gender or colour has blurred considerably—if not disappeared completely. The desire to move towards a society, which is based on the principle of inclusion has never been stronger, and the youth have played a crucial role in steering public opinion and government policies in this direction. We only need to look at some of the most important political and social movements of the twenty-first century to realize that if ‘systems’ have to be transformed, the youth need to show us the path. Well networked and technologically more advanced, this new generation has the ability to use its creativity and dynamism to solve some of the most critical issues we face today. Constituting nearly 40 per cent of India’s population, and being the most vibrant and dynamic segment of our country, coupled with the fact that global youth population is set to grow from 3 billion now to 3.5 billion by 2020, the youth is our most valuable human resource.

Catching the young minds and orienting them towards environmental stewardship is our ultimate goal at TERI. The intention is to create a wider consensus about the impact of environmental degradation and ensuring that youth play a proactive role in addressing key environmental issues. Children must take special interest in following our traditions of living with modesty and compassion to conserve the environment and operationalize sustainability at the local and global levels.
Dr R K Pachauri, Director General, TERI
The youth of today is not characterized by problems, but by the solutions they bring to the fore. It is time we tapped their constructive and creative energies by upping the ante on environmental conservation. They are the inheritors of planet earth, and as its future guardians, it is important that they develop an understanding of—and sensitivity towards—environmental degradation. After all, as citizens of tomorrow, the youth would be the most impacted by the problem of climate change.

‘The United Nations’ World Youth Report 2007 stated that there are approximately 1.2 billion people—18 per cent of the entire world population—between the ages of 15 and 24 living in the world. Youth is a powerful force for change and youth activism is on the rise, with a lot of young people taking action for social transformation. Youth are engaging with their communities and making their voices heard. This activism is being carried out through a variety of media and is conducted differently in nearly every country in the world. Young people can choose to hold rallies and protests on the streets, attend public hearings, or even organize grassroots movements within their communities. Since the Internet is used by 30 per cent of the world’s population, as some estimates have it, it has also become a preferred tool for young people to foster positive change.’

In this evolution of change, it has become imperative and a critical element of any nation's strategy to engage this next generation of decision makers in actions to address environmental issues. Enhancing dialogue between local authorities and the youth is seen as crucial in developing a new relationship based on mutual understanding and trust. Meeting this challenge is not easy, as involving young people in decision-making requires different approaches. It is important to ensure that they play a proactive role in addressing key environmental issues that will affect the world in the future.

TERI realizes the importance of inculcating and instilling environmental values in youth. It has been diligently carrying out a number of activities to build awareness, including a sense of respect and responsibility towards the environment in the youth, and through them, among other sections of society. It has been engaging young minds not only to create environmentally responsible citizenry, but also enhancing their role in catalysing economic and social development across learning institutions—both at local and global levels to form a basis for positive societal action.

There is little doubt that youth are the change makers, and that their active involvement in the sustainable development discourse will be critical. It would be of great importance for every nation, including India, to ensure that the voice of youth is heard, for it is they who will combat challenges for a greener today and build an environment that will nurture future generations.

Highlights

Building Networks

Encouraging partnerships for sustainable changes
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Action for Change

TERI’s efforts in Environment Education are applied through the doctrine -”Action for Change” read more

Experiential Learning

The key to personal change and growth, harnessed through the “seeing and believing effect”
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Champions of Change

Creating and mentoring youth leadership
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Innovation

Techniques, tools and methods ‘ Beyond Walls and Books’.
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Joining Hands

Engaging to establish youth groups
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Outreach

Elucidating knowledge to empower

Online Media
Publications
Films and documentaries
Resource Kits

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Posted on: 28 April 2011